MLB Trade Deadline: 5 Bold Targets for the Cleveland Indians
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As All-Star week moves ahead, the Cleveland Indians find themselves in a three-team race for control of the American League Central.
Cleveland made the surprising move last summer to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies, but the team has yet to make a similar move thus far this season. Chicago struck first and traded for Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, and has 9-4 since the move.
The Indians need to make a move to acquire a right-handed bat or pitcher to stay in playoff contention. Here are five bold targets that would make an immediate impact in a Cleveland uniform.
Carlos Quentin could provide the right-handed power that the Indians desperately need.
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.268 BA, 7 HR, 17 RBI, .406 OBP
The San Diego Padres are in the midst of a 34-53 season. Many players, including outfielder Carlos Quentin, are expected to be on the July trading block.
At 29, Quentin is arguably the best right-handed bat on the market this season. As a free agent at year's end, his price tag would normally be smaller due to the risk involved in acquiring him.
However, as ESPN's Buster Olney reports*, a seller's market will most likely drive up Quentin's price.
His slugging percentage is already better than any hitter on the Cleveland roster. There is little doubt he would improve the team's .222 batting average against left-handed pitching.
*ESPN Insider subscription required for full article
If the Blue Jays being to falter, Edwin Encarnacion will garner interest from every club in need of a power hitter.
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.295 BA, 23 HR, 58 RBI, .382 OBP
The availability of the Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion is unclear at this point, due to the Blue Jays being alive in the wild-card race.
That hasn't stopped analysts like ESPN's Jayson Stark from speculating on the possible asking price for Encarnacion.
Stark reports that Encarnacion, a free agent in the offseason, could be acquired if the "right" pitcher were offered, according to scouts.
Encarnacion is fifth in the majors with 23 home runs and is versatile enough to play first or third base, as well as designated hitter.
Cleveland may not have strong pitching depth, but the chance to acquire a right-handed power hitter capable of hitting 40 home runs doesn't come often.
If the Blue Jays fall from contention, a package including Zach McAllister and prospects might be enough to secure Encarnacion.
With the Phillies crossing the 50-loss threshold before the All-Star break, Victorino is sure to be one of the first Phillies to get dealt in a fire-sale.
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.245 BA, 8 HR, 37 RBI, .311 OBP
The Philadelphia Phillies are last in the NL East, leading some to believe they will soon trim the payroll from the current $173.4 million mark.
What makes a deal for Victorino realistic is the fact that he is a free agent after the 2012 season.
What makes a deal unlikely would be the Indians' hesitance to deal prospects for what could amount to a rental. Victorino's ability to walk away after the season might drive down the asking price.
The switch-hitting Victorino would be a welcome addition to a Cleveland lineup looking for outfield help. He could immediately plug in at left or center field and provide speed and run production for the Indians.
Matt Garza would provide a solid presence in the Cleveland rotation alongside Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson.
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4-7, 4.32 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 86 K
Garza has struggled this year, putting up a 4.32 ERA without much of a lineup to support him.
Even with his struggles, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes that Garza could command a higher return than Zach Greinke or Cole Hamels because of an extra year on his contract.
For Cleveland, adding a starter with four pitches including a mid-90s fastball would immediately upgrade the rotation. The fact that Garza doesn't walk many batters also makes him more attractive than his actual record.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted that the Indians are one of six teams who scouted Garza in his last start.
Unfortunately for fans who want Garza, the Cubs will want a large return due to their willingness to re-sign him, according to Passan. Players like Dillon Howard and Zach McAllister would have to be on the table to get him, with others added to sweeten the deal.
Adding a starter to bolster the rotation would be worth the price tag if it meant a deep playoff run.
Acquiring Justin Upton would be a shocking move, but one that would put an anchor in the Cleveland outfield for years to come.
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.273, 7 HR, 37 RBI, .353 OBP
The most surprising name on this list is Justin Upton, the 24-year-old outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reported that Arizona is preparing for all trade possibilities, but that Upton would require a massive package in return.
Upton is a future superstar outfielder with speed and run-producing ability. What is making teams line up to call Arizona is the fact that he would be under his new team's control until 2015 at an affordable rate.
This may seem like an absolute dream for Indians fans, and chances are it would never happen. Players like Francisco Lindor, Dillon Howard, Tony Wolters and others would have to be in the discussion—a fact the Indians would have to consider.
It would take a large package of active players and prospects to get him, but Upton is worth the investment.
If the Indians truly want to make a title run, Upton is the player to go after.