CLEVELAND -- The Indians continue to stockpile middle-infield options this offseason. The latest is Brian Bixler, who was acquired in a trade with the Pirates on Monday. To get Bixler, the Indians sent the Bucs Class A third baseman Jesus Brito, who batted a combined .353 with a .998 OPS with short-season Mahoning Valley and the Indians' Arizona League team last year.
The addition of Bixler fills up the Tribe's 40-man roster. Bixler, 27, is a Sandusky, Ohio, native who was the Pirates' second-round selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. Although he played parts of the past two seasons with the Pirates, he spent the bulk of the past three years at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he hit a combined .276 with 21 homers, 130 RBIs and a .766 OPS while striking out 366 times in 1,199 at-bats. Last season, Bixler batted .275 with 23 doubles, eight triples, nine homers and 43 RBIs in 103 games at Indianapolis, and he hit .227 (10-for-44) with five runs scored and three RBIs in 18 games over three stints with the Bucs. In 50 games with the Pirates in '08, Bixler batted .157 (17-for-108) with two doubles, one triple and two RBIs. In his professional career, Bixler has played primarily at shortstop but also at second base, third base and center field. "He's a good defender," Tribe general manager Mark Shapiro said. "He has a little above-average speed and versatility. He gives us more middle-infield depth." As of now, the only lock in the middle infield is Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop. Luis Valbuena is likely to resume the starting second-base duties he took over in his rookie year in '09, but he will still get spelled against left-handed pitching. Bixler is another right-handed bat added to the mix of competitors for the infield utility role. The other candidates are non-roster invitees Mark Grudzielanek and Luis Rodriguez and prospect Jason Donald.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.