5 Trades the Cleveland Indians Should Already Be Thinking About
After the first 19 games of the season, the Indians find themselves in a curious situation. Nobody quite knows whether the Indians are for real or whether they will falter as the season continues.
As we move closer to the trade deadline, the Indians' position in the standings will determine whether they're buyers or sellers.
If they're sellers, several players who are either in the final year of their contract or approaching their final year could find themselves leaving Cleveland.
If the Indians, however, find themselves in contention for the American League Central title, then they could seek to add pieces to make a run at the postseason.
With that said, here are five trades the Indians should already be thinking about.
All Contract information courtesy Cot's Baseball Contracts via Baseballprospectus.com.
All Stats current through 4/26/16 and courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Any Expendable Starter from Tampa Bay
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The Tampa Bay Rays have a boatload of starting pitching that they can afford to trade.
Currently, the team has a rotation that consists of David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb and Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona).
Jeff Niemann is currently on the DL while top prospects Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and several others are currently honing their skills at the minor league level.
With a bevy of talent pushing for spots on the big league roster, the Rays may be willing to part with one of their starters. Hellickson, Cobb and Niemann are the most likely trade targets.
Hellickson and Cobb would come at a higher price than Niemann, but they're significantly younger and would be under club control much longer than Niemann.
If the Indians are willing to pony up a little bit of extra money to extend Asdrubal Cabrera, then the team's top middle-infield prospects could become available. This type of move could give the Indians the opportunity to upgrade their starting rotation in a big way.
They have the minor league depth to make a move for David Price, but the organization may not be willing to dole out enough money to extend Price when his contract runs out at the end of the 2013 season.
Price may not be a realistic option, but still, look for the Indians to target one of the Rays' available pitchers.
Matt Garza (SP), Chicago Cubs
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It's been rumored that Matt Garza has been on the trading block since last season (per ESPN's Bruce Levine).
Garza has yet to pitch a game in 2013 due to injury, so a lot of this deal hinges on whether or not Garza is healthy and pitching at the big league level when the deadline rolls around.
Graza's recent stint on the DL could prove beneficial to the Indians, though, as his value is trending downward.
At 29 yeras old, Garza still has a few good seasons ahead of him. The Indians would have to extend him at the end of the 2013.
Garza owns a career 3.68 ERA in the second half with a 1.32 WHIP and ratios of 7.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 2.48 K/BB and 8.83 H/9 (per Baseball-Reference.com). Those numbers are slightly better than his career numbers in the first half, so the Indians would be getting Garza at his best.
This trade is really all about opportunity; Garza is returning from injury and his contract runs out at the end of the 2013 season.
With all these factors coming together, Garza's trade value is at an all-time low, and that could greatly benefit the Indians.
Trading Asdrubal Cabrera
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Asdrubal Cabrera's contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season and the team may not be able to pay him to stay with the team. Beyond that, though, the Indians have two very good shortstop prospects in Francisco Lindor and Ronny Rodriguez, both of whom are working their way through the minors at torrid paces.
It was rumored this offseason that Cabrera was on the market, but nothing came to fruition and the team instead chose to bring in top-tier free agents to build around Cabrera and others already in Cleveland (per ESPN's Jim Bowden).
If the Indians are out of the playoff race, one of the first players to go could be Cabrera. Trading Cabrera would bring in top-level prospects while also freeing up $10 million in salary for the 2014 season.
There is one contending team that could desperately use a shortstop as the season moves forward, and that team is the St. Louis Cardinals.
With the aging Rafael Furcal recovering from Tommy John Surgery, the Cardinals could benefit greatly from the addition of Cabrera.
Cabrera is a career .276/.339/.412 hitter with 162-game averages of 14 HR, 77 RBI, 84 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Cabrera would fit in nicely with the Cardinals and would make their lineup arguably the best in the National League.
The Cardinals have one of the richest farm systems in all of baseball, so Cabrera would net the Indians a good haul of prospects, including either Michael Wacha (SP) or Carlos Martinez (SP), along with a few other prospects.
Trading Mark Reynolds
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Mark Reynolds was signed to a one-year, $6 million contract by the Indians in the 2012-13 offseason.
So far, the 29-year-old slugger has rewarded the team with a stellar performance, including a .286/.365/.698 slash line with seven home runs, five doubles, 19 RBI and 12 runs scored.
Reynolds is known for being a free-swinger and his career 32 percent strikeout rate is indicative of that. However, Reynolds has toned down the strikeouts thus far and is striking out in just 23 percent of his plate appearances.
Again, trading Reynolds is contingent on the idea of the Indians being sellers at the trade deadline, but it's a very real possibility.
Reynolds would likely go to an American League team. He's not a great fielder and most, if not all of his value lies in his ability to hit for power.
Depending on injuries, and their positions in the standings, teams like the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays could be a good fit for Reynolds.
Trading Chris Perez
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Chris Perez is another name that has been involved in trade rumors this season. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Perez is one of several players who could be traded this season (per ESPN.com).
Perez is still young, and at 27 years old, he's one of the more attractive options for a contending team in need of a closer.
Perez owns a career 3.18 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP to go along with ratios of 8.7 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 2.28 K/BB and 6.4 H/9. Additionally, Perez has saved 36 and 39 games in the last two seasons, respectively.
Perez's situation is different because of his very defined role. However, closing situations around Major League Baseball have been in flux over the past few seasons and the need for a closer could arise at any moment.
The 27-year-old righty's trade stock is rising as he's currently sporting a 1.29 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with three saves and ratios of 9.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 3.50 K/BB and 6.4 H/9.
Perez is a surefire candidate to be traded should the Indians find themselves out of the AL Central race.