The Cleveland Indians have bolstered their infield and clubhouse depth by agreeing to terms with veteran infielder Juan Uribe on a one-year deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is pending a physical.
Uribe, who seemed to flounder on the free agent market this offseason, will make “just shy” of $5 million with the Indians in 2016, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports.
Juan Uribe’s agreement w/ CLE is for just shy of $5m. Will take him awhile to arrive, because of pending visa issues.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 19, 2016
When the 36-year-old Uribe arrives at Indians camp, he will bring a versatile skill set and savvy veteran presence to a relatively young team. Despite going through a well-traveled season in 2015, — which included playing for three different teams — Uribe still enjoyed a productive campaign.
Starting off with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, Uribe played in just 29 games for the team before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves as part of a six-player trade. After falling behind on the Dodgers’ depth chart and subsequently traded, Uribe shared a humorous take on the situation.
“I would’ve felt bad if they traded me to a soccer, basketball or football team,” Uribe told reporters, including Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times. “But it’s another baseball team, so I’m happy.”
Through 46 games with the Braves, Uribe played well as he hit.285 with seven HR and 17 RBI. However, the Braves were struggling, and Uribe became a lucrative trade piece for teams looking to bolster their infield. A week before the MLB trade deadline, the New York Mets — who were struggling to score on a consistent basis — acquired both Uribe and fellow infielder Kelly Johnson in exchange for two minor leaguers.
Uribe paid immediate dividends, notching a walk-off hit in his second game with the Mets. In addition to his contributions with the bat and the glove, Uribe became a popular member of the Mets’ clubhouse upon his arrival.
“He walked in the clubhouse with personality, with reputation, and the Latin guys flock to him,” Mets manager Terry Collins told the New York Post last August. “They know him, they’ve heard of him and he’s an outgoing guy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. People gravitate to those kinds of guys.”
A former two-time World Series champion with the Chicago White Sox (2005) and San Francisco Giants (2010), Uribe brought the experience that nearly all of the Mets’ roster lacked. In 44 games with the eventual National League East division champion Mets, Uribe hit.219 with six HR and 20 RBI.
Between the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets, Uribe finished 2015 a.253 hitter with 14 HR and 43 RBI while playing at both second and third base. Despite his portly physique and age, Uribe is still considered a good defender. According to FanGraphs, Uribe is a better defender at third base rather than second base based on his +2.3 UZR and +1 defensive runs saved at the hot corner last year.
Late in the season, Uribe suffered a chest injury that prematurely ended his regular season and allowed him to receive just one at-bat in the postseason, which ended up as a pinch-hit single in Game 3 of the World Series.
During his 15-year MLB career, Uribe has played with the Colorado Rockies, White Sox, Giants, Dodgers, Braves and Mets. He has accumulated a.256 career batting average with 192 HR, 791 RBI, and the two aforementioned World Series titles.
[Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images]