With the Indians making trades during the offseason to free up salary, you would think the team doesn’t have to move Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer.
However, I think they should still consider exploring the possibility of trading either of the starting pitchers.
While they cleared $21.5 million for the 2019 season in trading Yan Gomes, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso, there is still a glaring hole in the outfield and the bullpen.
The organization could address those by signing an outfielder or a few bullpen arms but that is just putting a band-aid on a situation that will linger throughout the season.
The current projected starting outfield is Greg Allen, Tyler Naquin and Leonys Martin. Naquin and Martin will be returning from injury/illness that shut down their 2018 seasons.
Behind them is Jake Bauers who was acquired in the Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Santana trade from Tampa Bay but is projected to play first base with Santana as the designated hitter.
The team that can help the Indians address their situation would be the Los Angeles Dodgers who have been linked in trade rumors with Cleveland over the last few weeks.
CBS Sports reported on Wednesday that the sides were still talking about a potential trade
And finally, the Dodgers are talking to the Cleveland Indians about a deal that would send outfielders Alex Verdugo and Joc Pederson plus right-handed pitcher Ross Stripling to Cleveland in exchange for either Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber.
Adding Verdugo and Pederson would add immediate help to the outfield and would also provide it for the future as well. Pederson is under control through 2020 and Verdugo is through 2024 and is the Dodgers top ranked prospect.
Stripling would add another arm to the Indians pitching staff whether it’s as a starter or if they wanted to convert him to the bullpen. He was an All-Star in 2018 going 8-6 with a 3.02 ERA in 33 appearances (21 starts). He would be under control through 2022.
I know many would see the Indians trading one of the starting pitchers as another move that would make the team go in the other direction although they’re speaking publicly like they’re wanting to contend.
They still want to contend but it’s apparent they want to extend the window as well as long as they have Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Carlos Carrasco under contract.
The Indians strongest and deepest area on the roster is their starting pitching with Kluber, Carrasco, Bauer, Clevinger and Bieber with top prospect Triston McKenzie waiting in the wings and could be in Cleveland as early as late next season if all goes well.
Trading either Kluber or Bauer for a package of controllable major league talent and/or prospects will help the Indians in 2019 and beyond and it won’t have any effect on the team’s current window of competing in the American League.
It’s a potential move they should still be discussing and perhaps even considering pulling the trigger on.