The second rather eyebrow raising bullpen move made by an AL Central team in the past 48 hours. On Saturday Pat Neshek announced that he had been claimed by the Padres on his Twitter account. Today we learn that Indians reliever Jensen Lewis has been waived by the club.
The Twins dumping of Neshek, despite his ongoing struggles, was surprising given that he had options remaining and could've simply been stashed in AAA. That wasn't true of Lewis, who is out of options. Yet the teams decision to cut someone who posted a 2.97 ERA (3.41FIP) in a setup role last season is a bit baffling.
The Indians are one of baseball's more cash-strapped franchises, having slashed payroll to 45-50m for the 2011 season, but with the team at almost precisely 45m, saving the 490K owed to Jensen (they still owe 160K) doesn't seem to be the culprit. Instead it appears the team simply wasn't satisfied with the performance they had gotten from Lewis so far this spring. The results certainly weren't pretty as he has struggled mightily this spring, allowing 13 hits and 3 walks in just 5.2 innings.
The other side of the equation of course is that the team will now be seeking another reliever to fill that hole. Who that will be is not immediately clear as of now, but the move opens up room for someone else.