Following a breakout campaign in which he slashed .321/.367/.520 in 333 at-bats, Chris Colabello was expected to provide solid value for fantasy owners. However, just 16 games into the 2016 season, the first baseman tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and was suspended 80 games. The organization didn't offer much support, and actually shunned him in some ways. Manager John Gibbons said players "come and go" in July when asked about Colabello's standing with the team. After his suspension was over, the 32-year-old was sent to the minors, never to return (not even when rosters expanded in September). Colabello spent the entire second half playing for Triple-A Buffalo and slashed a disappointing .185/.254/.293 in 157 at-bats. Now 33, Colabello will get a look with the Indians in spring training, competing for a backup role at first base and in the outfield corners.
The Indians informed Colabello on Sunday that he wouldn't make the Indians' Opening Day roster. Colabello had an excellent spring training with a 15-of-39 showing from the dish and performed well for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, but as a non-roster invitee, the 33-year-old always faced long odds to break camp with the big club. After missing much of the first half of last season while serving a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, Colabello slashed just .180/.248/.288 with Triple-A Buffalo in the Blue Jays organization. He'll likely have to find some success with Triple-A Columbus before earning a promotion to the Indians in 2017.
Colabello will play for Team Italy in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Following last season's suspension for a failed drug test, Colabello will begin his climb back to the majors with the 2017 WBC. The tournament will serve as an opportunity for the first baseman to repair his image and make a good impression on his new team (he signed a minor league deal with the Indians in December). Although he received an invite to spring training, Colabello will likely begin the season at Triple-A Columbus as Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion are entrenched at his position.
Colabello signed a minor league deal, which includes a spring training invite, with the Indians on Tuesday, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports. The 33-year-old has spent the last two seasons with the Blue Jays organization, but he appeared in only 10 games for the big league club in 2016, due in part to serving an 80-game PED suspension. In 45 minor league contests, mostly at Triple-A, Colabello compiled a meager .185/.254/.293 slash line with 12 RBI and 51 strikeouts. Expectations will be low for Colabello, but the Indians will hope he can regain the form that saw him hit .321 with 54 RBI in 101 major league games in 2015.
Colabello elected to become a free agent on Tuesday, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. After being outrighted off the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, it probably became clear to Colabello that he would have a better chance at earning big league at-bats in a different organization in 2017. He has a career .266/.322/.435 slash line against righties and just a .237/.304/.397 line against southpaws. That is not a very appealing profile for a first baseman/corner outfielder, so he is unlikely to enter next season assured of regular big league at-bats.
Colabello cleared waivers and was outrighted by the Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports. Colabello remains in the organization, but he's no longer on the 40-man roster. Other teams from around the league had the ability to claim the first baseman, but instead Colabello cleared waivers and remains under club control. This is his second career outright, meaning he can elect to become a free agent. The 33-year-old posted an .886 OPS for the Jays in 2015, but in 2016, he received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. Colabello later appeared in 40 games for Triple-A Buffalo, managing a disappointing .180/.248/.288 slash line.