Free agent Russell Branyan, who's talking with three clubs, is furthest along with the Indians, according to major-league sources.
The Rays maintain mild interest in Branyan, while the Red Sox also are in the mix, sources say. But the Indians could offer Branyan more playing time than the Red Sox and probably the Rays.
Branyan's back is the main reason why he remains unsigned. The Mariners likely have the most information on his condition, and they went with Casey Kotchman, Ryan Garko, and others instead of re-signing Branyan. Although, reported three-year, $20M contract dreams certainly didn't help Branyan's case. The guy can hit, just mostly against righties, which makes him a poor man's version of Jim Thome. Worth noting: in 2006, Branyan hit .201/.286/.473 with the Rays. At the time, there was no way in hell I would've considered that "near average", yet, his wOBA was .323.