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11/20/08 7:55 PM EST
Tribe keeping tabs on Blake
Former Indians third baseman on free-agent market
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have asked to be kept in the loop with regard to Casey Blake, but no deal appears imminent for the free-agent third baseman with the Tribe or any other club.
Blake's agent, Jim McDowell, said he spoke with Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti earlier this week.
"There is interest on the Indians' part, and, obviously, Casey likes the organization," McDowell said, "so there's certainly interest going back the other way, too. We'll just have to see."
McDowell said Blake, who batted a combined .274 with 21 home runs and 81 RBIs for the Indians and Dodgers this past season, is not close to signing with any team, though he's not ruling out the possibility of a deal getting done some time next week. Blake, who made $6.1 million in 2008, also is drawing interest from the Dodgers and the Twins.
"The market is still being established for Casey and a lot of people," McDowell said.
The Indians have a long history with Blake, going back to when they signed him as a Minor League free agent before the 2003 season. He blossomed to become a valuable, versatile member of their lineup and an asset as a clubhouse leader.
A year ago, Blake was in his final year of arbitration, and the Indians opted to offer him just a one-year deal because they believed Andy Marte could emerge as their starting third baseman of the future. Marte, who took over at third when Blake was shipped to the Dodgers on July 26, didn't pan out, and now the Indians find themselves looking for somebody to shore up their infield.
The Tribe's first hope is to find a third baseman, but the team could seek out a second baseman to allow Asdrubal Cabrera to move to shortstop and Jhonny Peralta to go to the hot corner.
One line of thinking, where the Indians are concerned, is that the club could find a veteran like Blake to keep third warm for hot-hitting prospect Wes Hodges, who was batting .346 with six homers and 26 RBIs entering the final day of Arizona Fall League play. It's also possible the team will go for a more long-range option through free agency or trade.
The 34-year-old Blake looks to be in line for a multiyear deal after a strong '08 campaign. Though his numbers tapered off after the trade, his overall season totals, including a .310 average with runners in scoring position an .808 OPS, made for one of the strongest offensive seasons in his career.