12/01/12 10:45 AM ET
Hannahan non-tendered; road paved for Chisenhall
By Zack Meisel / MLB.com
The Indians did not tender Jack Hannahan a contract for the 2013 campaign, meaning the veteran infielder is a free agent. Teams had until midnight ET on Friday to offer contracts for the upcoming season to any arbitration-eligible players.
"The writing is on the wall, as far as Lonnie getting a chance to play every day," Hannahan told MLB.com on Friday. "I'm excited for him to get that opportunity to showcase what he can do."
The Indians offered deals to Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Mike Aviles, Lou Marson, Chris Perez, Tony Sipp and Joe Smith. Brent Lillibridge and Kevin Slowey already elected for free agency after being outrighted off Cleveland's 40-man roster earlier this winter. Southpaw Rafael Perez, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, and lefty Chris Seddon, who was designated Friday, were also non-tendered.
"I had two great years in Cleveland," Hannahan said. "I love playing in Cleveland. I love the fans of Cleveland, and I have a lot of respect for [president] Mark Shapiro and [general manager] Chris Antonetti. I really believe in what they're doing there, as far as getting a team that can contend and play in October."
Antonetti called the choice on Hannahan the club's "most challenging tender decision," and said the team still has interest in bringing him back via free agency.
"He's made a lot of contributions to our organization, both on the field and also with his leadership in the clubhouse and his relationships with other players," Antonetti said. "He's a guy that we certainly value and appreciate with where we are in the offseason -- and the financial commitment we would need to make to retain him through the arbitration process, we just didn't think it was something that made sense for us."
Hannahan, who earned $1.135 million last season, batted .244 with four homers and 29 RBIs in 105 contests in 2012, despite being hindered by a nagging back injury. Over the season's first 30 games, the third baseman hit .287 with three homers. A lower-back issue forced him out of the lineup on May 13 for nearly two weeks, and Hannahan hit just .180 with one homer across his next 59 games.
"It's no secret," Hannahan said. "When I came back from my injury, I was horrible. My back was still barking, and it was something I was trying to maintain and deal with. Looking back on it, I probably should've missed some more time, but I felt like I missed too much time to begin with."
Hannahan joined the Indians as a Minor League free agent prior to the 2011 campaign, but worked his way into the starting role at the hot corner that spring. He hit .250 with eight homers and 40 RBIs in 110 games in his first year in Cleveland.
Chisenhall batted .268 with five homers in 43 contests for the Indians last season. He made a swift recovery from a broken right forearm -- suffered in late June when he was struck by a fastball from Orioles reliever Troy Patton -- to provide the club with a glimpse of its future in September.
"Lonnie certainly finished strong last year in the second half, coming back from injury," Antonetti said. "We continue to believe he has a lot of potential."
With Chisenhall expected to take the reins at third base and Aviles and Jason Donald in the fold as potential utility players, Hannahan became expendable. Hannahan, however, still feels he can be an everyday player.
"It's nothing new to me," Hannahan said. "I've been around the game a long time. Anyone wants to play every day and get as many at-bats as they can and help their team win as often as they can."