James Karinchak was expected to be a integral part of the Tribe's bullpen, but he'll now begin the season in the minors. David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

The Indians announced today that four players have been optioned to Triple-A (Twitter link), as outfielder Bradley Zimmer and right-handers Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, and James Karinchak were all cut from the 26-man roster.

Of all the roster assignments we’ve seen in recent days as teams make procedural tweaks well in advance of when the 2020 season could actually begin, the Tribe’s moves may have been the ones least likely to happen had the season begun today as scheduled.  Optioning this quartet of players gives the Indians a bit more flexibility in determining tougher roster decisions, and obviously any can (and likely will) be recalled prior to the beginning of official games.

Due to injuries to Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco, Civale and Plesac were both penciled into Cleveland’s Opening Day rotation, and it’s a fair bet that both pitchers could have remained in the starting five throughout the year.  Adam Plutkowas also in the mix for a starting job and, since he is out of options, perhaps had some advantage over Civale and Plesac in that regard, though the Indians could also have kept Plutko on the 26-man roster as a reliever.

Likewise, the hard-throwing Karinchak was expected to play an important role in the Tribe’s bullpen in the wake of a solid Spring Training and an impressive brief cameo (5 1/3 innings) during the 2019 regular season.  Karinchak has dealt with some control issues through his three pro seasons, though the righty’s minor league strikeout totals are nothing short of outstanding, with a whopping 186 strikeouts over 102 1/3 innings in the Cleveland farm system.

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.



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