The Indians announced a series of moves prior to today’s doubleheader with the Rays, including the placement of outfielder Eddie Rosario on the 10-day injured list due to a right abdominal strain. Left-hander Logan Allen was also optioned to Triple-A. To fill these roster spots, the Tribe selected the contract of right-hander DJ Johnson from Triple-A and called up outfielder Daniel Johnson and infielder Owen Miller (for the doubleheader, Miller will serve as the 27th man). To create 40-man roster space for Johnson, Josh Naylor was shifted to the 60-day injured list in the wake of his recent leg surgery.
Rosario has been bothered by abdominal issues for the last week, and after he was an early removal from Monday’s game, an IL placement was deemed necessary to give the outfielder a chance to fully heal. With a .309/.330/.489 slash line over his last 100 plate appearances, Rosario is finally starting to heat up at the plate, and his absence will remove another bat from the struggling Cleveland lineup.
Signed to a one-year, $8MM free agent deal last winter, Rosario’s first two months with the Tribe were rough, resulting in an overall .254/.296/.389 slash line in 306 PA despite his success over the last four weeks. The dropoff in slugging is of particular concern, as Rosario was (if anything) a power-first player during the previous four seasons with the Twins. Since Rosario has never posted good hard-hit ball numbers or taken many walks, the lack of power has curtailed Rosario’s offensive production, though his numbers in June provide some hope that he can get on track in the second half of the season.
A platoon of Daniel Johnson and Oscar Mercado could be the Tribe’s top option to fill in for Rosario in the outfield, and even if Rosario is able to return from the IL pretty quickly, it’s fair to assume that Cleveland will continue to explore trading for an outfielder as the deadline approaches. The Indians are 42-40 but still within striking distance of the postseason, 6.5 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central and 4.5 games back of a wild card berth. Between a lack of hitting and a bunch of injuries within the rotation, however, the Cleveland front office has a lot of needs to address while at the same time keeping payroll in check and (as always) keeping an eye towards the future. If the team slumps over the next two weeks, the Tribe’s deadline activity is likely to lean more towards selling than buying, though the Indians have often tried to accomplish both goals in multi-player trades over the last few years.
DJ Johnson inked a minor league deal over the winter, and now looks on the verge of his first big league action since the 2019 season. After posting a 4.88 ERA over 31 1/3 innings with the Rockies in 2018-19, Johnson played in Japan in 2020, and was also in the mix for a spot on the U.S. Olympic baseball team at the upcoming Summer Games.