DePodesta back in Cleveland, now with Browns

Former Indians front office member takes on NFL challenge

DePodesta back in Cleveland, now with Browns

CLEVELAND -- A well-known baseball executive accepted a job in Cleveland on Tuesday, but it had nothing to do with the Indians. Paul DePodesta, who got his start in baseball with the Tribe two decades ago, left the Mets and has been hired by the NFL's Cleveland Browns to be their chief strategy officer.

"Paul's a brilliant and innovative guy," said Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations. "He's made a huge impact on a number of organizations that he's been with and he's got a really unique way of looking at things and finding ways to attack and work through problems, and develop innovative solutions. I think he's a very capable baseball executive that will have a great impact on the Browns.

"I think he's had that track record in baseball. He's very passionate about sports. He's passionate about winning. He's passionate about excellence. So I think all of those things kind of transcend any one individual sport."

DePodesta was in the Indians' front office from 1996-99 before leaving for a job with the A's -- a move made famous in the book and movie, "Moneyball." DePodesta also had stops with the Dodgers, Padres and Mets in a variety of front-office roles. His most recent post was as the Mets' vice president of scouting and player development.

"When Paul left to go to Oakland, I took his spot here," Antonetti said. "We overlapped for about a month or so during that transition. And then we've been obviously in touch. We've both been in the game for a while and we've developed that relationship over time as peers. He's someone I stay in regular touch with. ... Paul would be extraordinarily successful in any industry as an executive, whether that was baseball, football or running a Fortune 500 company."

Worth noting

• Prior to the 2013 season, the Indians had a protected first-round Draft pick and an extra early-round pick via the Competitive Balance system. Under those unique circumstances, Cleveland was willing to sign free-agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, costing the Tribe one early-round pick each. Antonetti was asked Tuesday if there is a scenario right now in which he would be willing to forfeit his top Draft pick.

"We place a very high value on the No. 1 pick, but we've done it before," Antonetti said. "There are situations where we've signed players and that's cost us a No. 1 pick. But it's not something that we would do lightly."

Cleveland's top Draft pick (No. 15) this coming June is not protected.

• The Indians signed Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis this winter to one-year deals to solve issues at first base and in the outfield, respectively. Antonetti hinted that Cleveland might be done making major moves this offseason, but he said he is still in talks with other teams and players.

"We're looking just for any opportunities at this point to improve," Antonetti said. "I feel like we've addressed our specific needs."

• Antonetti noted that utility man Zach Walters is "doing well" after being involved in a car accident last month. According to the Indians' president, Walters has resumed physical therapy from the left shoulder surgery he had at the end of the season, and he will have stitches removed (as a result of the car accident) this week.

"Thankfully," Antonetti said, "it seems like Zach averted a potentially really significant injury."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.