The Cleveland Indians' depleted outfield has taken another hit, with Abraham Almonte receiving an 80-game suspension.
Per Tom Withers of the Associated Press, the Indians said in a statement that they were "disappointed" upon learning of Almonte's suspension.
The Indians acquired Almonte from the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline last season. He appeared in 51 games for the team, hitting .264/.321/.455 in 178 at-bats. He also provided solid defense in center field, with FanGraphs crediting him with two defensive runs saved in 481.1 innings.
Losing Almonte for half of the season is a devastating blow for the Indians, who were already coming into 2016 with major outfield questions. Left fielder Michael Brantley had shoulder surgery in November, which could keep him out for at least the regular season's first month.
The situation in right field is fluid, with Lonnie Chisenhall and Collin Cowgill possibly platooning. Cleveland did sign Rajai Davis, who has experience at all three outfield positions, early in the offseason.
Even though Almonte wasn't a lock to end up as Cleveland's starting center fielder, he was an option for manager Terry Francona to choose from.
Now, Francona and the Indians front office will have to get more creative with their outfield mix. The American League Central figures to be one of MLB's most competitive divisions next year, so any setback is huge.
The good news is that MLB announced Almonte's suspension early enough for Cleveland to see which outfielders separate themselves from the pack during spring training.
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