October 25, 2014

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Indians trade for left-handed reliever Rzepczynski, demote Pestano

CLEVELAND — The Indians believe they have addressed an issue in acquiring left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals for minor league infielder Juan Herrera.

“In acquiring Marc, we feel like we’ve gotten a left-handed reliever that has been very effective at getting left-handed hitters out at the major league level,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “In addition to that, he has postseason experience and has pitched in some very pressurized games, in games that we aspire to play in.

“We think he addresses a need, both in the short- and potentially long-term for the organization. I think he’ll fit in very well.”

As a result of the move, former top-notch setup man Vinnie Pestano is out of a job.
The struggling right-hander was optioned to Triple-A Columbus after Tuesday’s game to clear a spot for Rzepczynski on the 25-man roster. Columbus right-hander Joe Martinez was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

Left-handers have provided little relief for the Indians this season, with Cleveland using a host of pitchers in the role, including Rich Hill, who is the only southpaw in the bullpen right now.

Rzepczysnki is expected to be in Cleveland today to be added to the big league roster.

Though Rzepczysnki, 27, has experience in the majors and postseason, this year has been a struggle. In 11 appearances for the Cardinals, he has posted a 7.84 ERA. St. Louis demoted him to the minors after he made an appearance Monday night.

Rzepczysnki owns a lifetime big league ERA of 4.20 in 177 games, his best season coming in 2011 when he posted a combined 3.34 ERA in 71 appearances for the Cardinals and Blue Jays. The Anaheim, Calif. native tossed two scoreless innings for the Cardinals in the World Series that year.

“He hasn’t been quite as successful at the major league level this year, but it’s been a very small sample,” Antonetti said. “His stuff’s still the same. He’s got a very good fastball. He gets groundballs and he has a good slider. He’s a guy we’ve had interest in for quite a while.”

Cleveland was also interested in lefty relievers Josh Outman (Colorado) and Javier Lopez (San Francisco), but the asking price was reportedly too high.

Antonetti hinted that the Indians might not be done, with potential moves still on the horizon before today’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.

“We’re still working to try to improve the team,” Antonetti said. “If there are guys out there that we think can improve upon the options that we have, we’ll explore it. But we do feel confident that Marc can help our team.”

It has been a season on the brink for Pestano, who was one of the American League’s top setup men from 2011-12. He was named Man of the Year by the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America last year after going 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 70 appearances.

This season, he’s 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA and six saves in 34 games, and recently lost his eighth-inning job to right-hander Joe Smith.

Pestano did not speak to reporters after the game.

Herrera, 20, was an undrafted free-agent acquisition in 2010. He has appeared in 39 games for Class A Mahoning Valley this season, batting .275 with a home run and 11 RBIs.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.