Notes: Indians planning extensions

Notes: Indians planning extensions

CLEVELAND -- Free agency never really stops. If clubs aren't thinking about this year's Hot Stove action, they're looking ahead to next year or the year after that.

Such is the case with the Indians, who know they'll have to shell out big bucks in the coming years if they're going to keep their core players.

With an obnoxiously pricey winter shopping market inching toward a close, Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said that the task of extending the likes of Jake Westbrook, C.C. Sabathia and Travis Hafner will be a difficult one.

"After this offseason," he said, "it's probably a greater challenge to get those extensions done."

Shapiro confirmed that when Spring Training dawns, the Indians will attempt to hammer out an extension with Westbrook, who is eligible for free agency after the '07 season.

Given the market for quality starting pitching, it's reasonable to assume that a healthy Westbrook could command somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million a year. Rather than approach Westbrook about an extension at the end of the season, before the market got out of whack, the Tribe picked up his '07 option worth $6.1 million.

"Jake is a guy we value and believe in," Shapiro said. "He's truly taken on a leadership role as well. He's a guy we'd like to have here beyond next year."

The same goes for Sabathia and Hafner, who are guaranteed to be Indians through 2008. Sabathia is signed through '08, and the Indians have an '08 option on Hafner worth between $5 and $6 million, depending on performance.

Beyond that, however, the Indians will have to shell out large sums of money if they're going to ensure that Sabathia and Hafner don't become the next wave of players to sign their first big contract with the Tribe and their second elsewhere.

"Those guys have become great players in the American League, so it would take a significant contract to extend those guys," Shapiro said. "I would imagine they're willing to listen. It still will be a challenge in light of what's happened this offseason in free agency.

"We'll see if there's enough common ground to extend them, recognizing there are multiple junctures ahead to look at extending these guys. There's Spring Training this year, there's next offseason and there's the following offseason before these guys are no longer Indians."

Here come the kids: The 2007 Winter Development program will take place at Jacobs Field and Case Western University from Jan. 8-26. Shapiro instituted the program in 1996 as a way to hone prospects' physical, mental and fundamental skills before Spring Training.

Andy Marte, likely to be the Tribe's everyday third baseman in '07, will take part this year. He'll be joined by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera; outfielders Trevor Crowe, Ryan Mulhern and Brad Snyder; right-handers Kyle Collins, Tom Mastny, Sean Smith, Adam Miller and Nick Pesco; left-handers Aaron Laffey, Juan Lara, Scott Lewis, Chuck Lofgren, Shawn Nottingham, Reid Santos and Tony Sipp; and catcher Wyatt Toregas.

You're invited: In recent years, the Indians, bolstered by a strong farm system, have seen a decline in the number of non-roster invites to big-league camp they hand out to players from outside the organization.

That looks to be the case again this year, as 12 in-house invitees were announced on Friday. They are: Laffey, Lewis, Lofgren, Miller, Sipp, Toregas, Cabrera, Crowe, left-hander Jason Stanford and catchers Armando Camacaro, Javi Herrera and Max Ramirez.

Outside invites have gone out to right-hander Jeff Harris, catcher Mike Rose and infielders Luis Rivas and Keith Ginter.

All told, that brings the total number of players currently scheduled to take part in camp to 56. The report date for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 15. The full squad will report on Feb. 20.

Staffs set: Farm director Ross Atkins has announced the coaching staffs for the Tribe's lower-level Minor League clubs.

Mike Sarbaugh will return as manager at Class A Kinston, where he'll be joined by pitching coach Tony Arnold and hitting coach Jon Nunnally. Sarbaugh, 39, guided the Indians to an 85-54 record and a first-half title in the Carolina League's Southern Division.

Chris Tremie will take over the managing duties at Class A Lake County, joined by pitching coach Ruben Niebla and hitting coach Jim Rickon. Tremie managed the Gulf Coast League Indians last year.

At short-season Mahoning Valley, a familiar face will be at the helm. Former Indians catcher Tim Laker will make his managerial debut, accompanied by pitching coach Ken Rowe and hitting coach Kevin Higgins. Laker spent five of the last six seasons in the Indians organization and parts of 11 seasons in the Majors.

Finally, Rouglas Odor will manage the Gulf Coast League club after managing at Mahoning Valley last year. Steve Lyons will be his pitching coach, and Phill Clark will be his hitting coach.

Promotion: The Indians created the title of director of baseball operations for Mike Chernoff, a Princeton graduate who interned in the club's front office in 2003 and was named assistant director of baseball operations in 2005. Chernoff will assist Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti in contractual dealings and the interpretation of waiver and option rules, coordinate the club's professional scouts and oversee the baseball operations internship program.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.