CLEVELAND -- Planning for next season extends beyond the big league roster. Ballclubs must also tend to the depth chart that extends into the upper tier of their farm system.
On Thursday, Cleveland took a pair of steps in that direction, signing infielder Luis Hernandez and re-signing pitcher Hector Rondon to Minor League contracts. Both will receive an invitation to attend Spring Training with the big league team.
While Hernandez and Rondon could help the Major League club at some point, they are viewed primarily as Minor League depth.
Hernandez, 28, joins the Indians' organization after spending the majority of last season with Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers' farm system. In 129 games at Triple-A, the infielder hit .262 with eight home runs, 23 doubles, 64 runs scored and 70 RBIs. Hernandez appeared in two games for the Rangers last year.
For his career, Hernandez has appeared in 122 games in the Majors between stints with the Orioles, Royals, Mets and Rangers. He has a .243 career average in the big leagues, but is known more for his skill and versatility in the field. Hernandez has mostly played shortstop, but he has experience at second and third base as well.
This winter, Hernandez has suited up for Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .316 (6-for-19) through six games.
Once considered a starting prospect, the 24-year-old Rondon will continue his comeback from two elbow injuries as a reliever. Rondon underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow in August 2010, and subsequently fractured the same joint during winter ball in Venezuela in 2011.
Last season, Rondon worked his way back on the mound, appearing in four games between the Arizona League Indians and Double-A Akron in the Indians' system. In that abbreviated showing, the right-hander struck out nine and walked two over seven innings, hitting as high as 97-98 mph on the radar gun with his fastball.
Rondon's last full season for Cleveland was in 2009, when he went 11-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 27 outings between Double-A and Triple-A. Through 10 games with Leones del Caracas in the VWL this offseason, Rondon has a 6.48 ERA with three strikeouts and four walks in 8 1/3 innings.