CLEVELAND -- The Indians have begun their offseason with a pair of moves that vacated two spots on the team's roster.
On Tuesday, Cleveland outrighted pitcher Mitch Talbot and outfielder Jerad Head from the team's 40-man roster. Talbot is a Minor League free agent, while Head has the option to decline the outright assignment in favor of electing free agency as well.
Talbot opened the 2011 season as the Indians' fifth starter, but his struggles eventually led to a trip back to the Minor Leagues. On the season, the right-hander went 2-6 with a 6.64 ERA in 12 starts for the Tribe. Talbot struck out 36 and walked 28 over 63 2/3 innings.
After reworking his delivery and approach at Triple-A Columbus, the 28-year-old rejoined Cleveland's rotation on Sept. 24 for one final outing in the big leagues. Over 5 1/3 innings against the Twins, Talbot gave up six runs on nine hits and walked four.
Over his final eight starts of the season for the Indians, Talbot went 0-5 with a 7.78 ERA, striking out 21 and walking 18 over 41 2/3 innings. During that stretch, opposing hitters posted a .360 average against the righty.
Heading into 2012, the Indians' rotation candidates include Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin and Fausto Carmona. Lefty David Huff and righty Jeanmar Gomez are the top contenders for the fifth spot, though Cleveland will be in the market for rotation help this offseason.
Talbot, who is currently out of Minor League options, has slipped behind the pack on the club's depth chart.
Head, 28, struggled in a brief stint with the Indians after enjoying a strong season with Triple-A Columbus. In the Minors, the outfielder hit .284 with 24 home runs and 70 RBIs over 114 games for the Clippers. In a 10-game tour with the Tribe, though, Head hit just .125 (3-for-24) with two runs scored.
Cleveland's 40-man roster currently includes 38 players, with an additional four players (pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Tomlin, along with outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo) on the 60-day disabled list. Players on the 60-day DL do not count against the roster total.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.