CLEVELAND — With the future of the starter they knew only as Fausto Carmona unclear, the Indians made a move to protect their rotation.
Cleveland traded for right-hander Kevin Slowey, acquiring the right-hander from Colorado on Friday for minor league reliever Zach Putnam and cash considerations.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti claimed the deal was not a direct reaction to Carmona's arrest in the Dominican Republic on charges the pitcher falsified his identity to play in the U.S. However, the timing of the trade seems to indicate the Indians don't know if they'll have Carmona this season.
Antonetti refused to answer any direct questions about Carmona, whom authorities in the Dominican Republic have identified as Roberto Hernandez Heredia.
"I'm going to refrain from commenting on that situation," Antonetti said several times during a conference call. "We are continuing to gather information."
Antonetti said Indians manager Manny Acta has spoken to Carmona/Heredia, who started Cleveland's season opener in 2011. The Indians picked up their $7 million option on Carmona in October and hold two more options on him for 2013 and 2014.
Upon his release in Santo Domingo, Heredia made a tearful apology.
"I ask for the forgiveness of my fans, the government of the United States and the Cleveland Indians for this situation," he said after a judge released him on bail of about $13,000.
Police arrested him Thursday outside the U.S. consulate when he arrived to get his visa renewed.
He was the second Dominican player arrested in recent months for using a false identity.
Antonetti said Slowey, who pitched for Minnesota last season and was traded to Colorado on Dec. 6, will have a chance to win a spot in Cleveland's starting rotation. At this point, the 27-year-old is not an option for the bullpen, Antonetti said.
"We look at Kevin as a major league starting pitcher," said Antonetti, adding the Indians have been interested in Slowey since he pitched in college. "If he doesn't make the rotation we will look at alternatives. For a lot of reasons, this makes sense."
Slowey split last season between the Twins and Triple-A Rochester. He went 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in the majors and spent time on the disabled list.
He made eight starts and six relief appearances, and the Twins went 0-14 in those games. According to STATS LLC, Slowey became the first major league pitcher to make at least eight starts and lose them all since Lou Sleater of the St. Louis Browns in 1951.
On the plus side, Slowey has been one of the best control pitchers in the majors over the past five years. He has averaged just 1.42 walks per nine innings, the second-lowest rate in the majors since 2007. Roy Halladay is the only pitcher with a better mark at 1.41.
Slowey went 13-6 in 2010 when the Twins won their second straight AL Central title.
Putnam spent most of last season at Triple-A Columbus, where he went 6-3 with a 3.65 ERA.
Antonetti expected Putnam to compete for a bullpen job in spring training, and said the Indians only made the trade because they have some depth in their relief corps.
Shortly after he was acquired by the Rockies, Slowey signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million to avoid arbitration. Slowey has a 39-29 career record and he went 6-3 in 11 starts against the Indians.