Cleveland Indians' Potential Targets at the Trade Deadline

Cody NormanCorrespondent IJune 4, 2014

Cleveland Indians' Potential Targets at the Trade Deadline

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Indians are one of the streakiest teams in baseball.

    Just one game back of .500, the Tribe sit 4.5 games out of first place and are in the midst of a five-game winning streak. They have been awfully good at home, posting a 20-11 record at Progressive Field. On the road, however, the Indians have just been awful, as they have posted a 9-19 record.

    The outfield trifecta of Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn and David Murphy is among the most productive in the game. Meanwhile, the middle of the order consisting of Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana has been one of the least productive.

    Who exactly are the 2014 version of these Cleveland Indians? That is still yet to be determined.

    With staff ace Justin Masterson and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera among those likely to be dealt at the trade deadline, Cleveland could be in position to be one of the most active teams. Where they sit in the American League Central come July will determine their fate as either one of the biggest sellers or biggest buyers.

    The following slides highlight 10 potential targets for general manager Chris Antonetti.

Alex Rios

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    A trade for the Rangers' Alex Rios would give the Tribe their long-coveted right-handed power hitter.
    A trade for the Rangers' Alex Rios would give the Tribe their long-coveted right-handed power hitter.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    If the Texas Rangers continue to be depleted by injuries and find themselves out of contention at the trade deadline, one of the biggest names on the open market could be Alex Rios.

    Through 54 games this season, Rios is hitting .325 with 22 extra-base hits. With 11 years of big league experience, the veteran outfielder would give the Indians some right-handed pop in the middle of their order. He would project best as the team's fifth hitter in the order, batting right behind switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana. 

     

    Projected Lineup

    CFMichael Bourn (L)

    SSAsdrubal Cabrera (S)

    2BJason Kipnis (L)

    DHCarlos Santana (S)

    RFAlex Rios (R)

    LFMichael Brantley (L)

    1BNick Swisher (S)

    CYan Gomes (R)

    3BLonnie Chisenhall (L)

     

    One respectable right-handed bat makes all the difference in balancing out the Tribe's offensive attack. Rios might be particularly appealing to the Tribe given the team would hold a team option for next season, giving the Indians a capable corner outfielder who is much more than just a one-year rental.

Ross Detwiler

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    Ross Detwiler has proven that he can be a pretty solid left-handed starting pitcher.

    A former sixth overall choice out of Missouri State University, Detwiler is entering the prime of his career and has been nothing short of a nonfactor for the Washington Nationals this season. Washington is stacked with young pitching and it is growing increasingly unlikely that Detwiler will ever get a chance to make a difference in the nation’s capital.

    If that is indeed the case, Cleveland should take a long look at the 28-year-old lefty for some rotation help at the deadline. Justin Masterson, who has severely underperformed to this point, is likely to be dealt regardless where the Tribe sit at the end of July; Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister have been largely ineffective throughout the season; and Cleveland needs a legitimate arm in the rotation.

    Over his career, Detwiler has posted a 3.86 ERA and, at the right price, could give the Tribe a steady anchor at the back end of their rotation.

     

    Projected Rotation

    1Justin Masterson (RHP)

    2Corey Kluber (RHP)

    3Zach McAllister (RHP)

    4Josh Tomlin (RHP)

    5Ross Detwiler (LHP)

     

    Detwiler, as well, would not just be a short-term fix, as his contract takes him through the 2015 season.

Michael Cuddyer

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Michael Cuddyer is coming off the best season of his big league career and the Colorado Rockies appear to be quiet contenders in the National League.

    Should that remain the case throughout the season, Cuddyer will not be going anywhere. If, however, the Rockies go into a free-fall heading into the trade deadline, Cuddyer could be on the trading block to a contender in need of a more short-term fix.

    The reigning National League batting champion, Cuddyer has appeared in just 29 games this season as he returns from a nagging hamstring injury. In 111 plate appearances, the 14-year veteran appears to have picked up right where he left off in 2014. Cuddyer has hit .306 with 10 extra-base hits.

    Much like Rios, Cuddyer would give the Tribe their long-coveted right-handed bat in the middle of the order. More, though, Cuddyer is a dream acquisition for manager Terry Francona, as Cuddyer has experience in multiple positions (right field, first base and third base).

     

    Projected Lineup

    CFMichael Bourn (L)

    SSAsdrubal Cabrera (S)

    2BJason Kipnis (L)

    RFMichael Cuddyer (R)

    DHCarlos Santana (S)

    LFMichael Brantley (L)

    1BNick Swisher (S)

    CYan Gomes (R)

    3BLonnie Chisenhall (L)

     

    Inserting Cuddyer into the cleanup spot takes some of the pressure off Santana to carry the load. The addition of Cuddyer, or a similar middle-of-the-order talent, could be crucial for righting the sinking ship that is Santana.

Shelby Miller

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    Shelby Miller might be well within reach for the Cleveland Indians.

    With the Cardinals’ reported desire to acquire an elite pitcher, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Indians and Cards seem to be obvious trade partners.

    Any trade sending Justin Masterson to St. Louis would surely include the 23-year-old right-hander Miller. Miller, who went 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 2013, is seen as a possibly expendable piece for manager Mike Matheny, as the team would certainly like to go into the postseason with a rotation consisting of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Justin Masterson.

    For the Tribe, Miller would be a solid second or third arm in the rotation behind staff ace Corey Kluber.

     

    Projected Rotation (assuming Masterson is traded):

    1Corey Kluber

    2Shelby Miller

    3Zach McAllister

    4Trevor Bauer

    5Josh Tomlin

     

    In 11 starts this season, Miller has not shown the same command he had a season ago, walking 33 batters over 68.2 innings in comparison to 57 walks over 173.1 innings in 2013. He has, however, posted a 4.06 ERA with a 6-5 record.

    Miller would be an outstanding return for the struggling Masterson, as Miller is not set to become a free agent until 2019.

C.J. Cron

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    If Cleveland can make it happen, C.J. Cron could be the biggest get for the Tribe at the deadline.

    Figuratively and literally.

    At 6’4” and 235 pounds, Cron would make an immediate impact as a power-hitting first baseman. In just 25 games with the Angels this season, Cron has torched big league pitching to the tune of a .295 batting average with three home runs. Including his three round-trippers, Cron has posted 11 extra-base hits in just 78 at-bats.

    However unlikely it may be that Los Angeles parts ways with its top hitting prospect, he is worth the phone call if the Angels have a glaring hole in their rotation or middle infield at the deadline.

     

    Projected Lineup

    CFMichael Bourn (L)

    SSAsdrubal Cabrera (S)

    2BJason Kipnis (L)

    1BC.J. Cron (R)

    LFMichael Brantley (L)

    DHCarlos Santana (S)

    RFNick Swisher (S)

    CYan Gomes (R)

    3BLonnie Chisenhall (L)

     

    A man can dream, right?

Edwin Escobar

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    USA TODAY Sports

    San Francisco seems likely to make a run at Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, as surely they would like to enter the postseason with Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and another elite pitcher in their rotation.

    Should they swing and miss on Samardzija, San Francisco might be an ideal destination for Justin Masterson and, if Cleveland is selling at the deadline, the Tribe could win big with a trade here.

    With right-hander Kyle Crick already in the Giants farm system, the Giants have a handful of expendable pitching prospects pitching in Triple-A or Double-A. With Crick untouchable, Edwin Escobar might be the most big league-ready and best possible option for the Tribe.

    Though he has endured a tough adjustment period at Triple-A Fresno this season, Escobar went 5-4 in 10 starts with Double-A Richmond last season. While he is not likely to develop into a staff ace, Escobar projects well as a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm at just 22 years old.

    He would be a great long-term steal if the Tribe unloads Masterson at the deadline.

Joc Pederson

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Dodgers have an interesting, somewhat enviable, situation in Los Angeles.

    With four players—Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier—for three spots, there is little room for Joc Pederson in the outfield. Puig is staying put, while Ethier, Crawford and Kemp will be hard to move given their outrageous contracts. While no player has seen his stock rise more since the start of the season, Pederson is somewhere between long-term All-Star in LA and invaluable trade chip.

    Pederson does not necessarily fill a need for the Tribe, but he would be an outstanding asset to snag at the deadline.

     

    Projected Lineup

    CFMichael Bourn (L)

    SSAsdrubal Cabrera (S)

    2BJason Kipnis (L)

    DHCarlos Santana (S)

    LFMichael Brantley (L)

    1BNick Swisher (S)

    CYan Gomes (R)

    3BLonnie Chisenhall (L)

    RFJoc Pederson (L)

     

    Long term, the Tribe would undoubtedly love the idea of having Pederson, Francisco Lindor, Kipnis, Jesus Aguilar and Brantley at the top of the lineup. 

    In 55 games with Triple-A Albuquerque, Pederson is hitting .337 with 15 home runs and 13 stolen bases. He brings a unique combination of power and speed, following the same trend the Indians have set with the emergence of Brantley and Kipnis.

Marcus Stroman

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Marcus Stroman was not particularly successful in his first big league stint this month.

    Per Bleacher Report's Mohammad Arshad:

    Despite having great stuff, it appears that the 23-year-old prospect simply isn’t polished enough to pitch in the major leagues yet.

    Stroman’s biggest problem has been his inability to utilize his fastball. While the right-hander has a very good fastball and throws it with an average velocity of 94.1 mph, locating the pitch and throwing it past opposing batters has been a problem for the young pitcher.

    While Stroman made his first stint out of the bullpen for Toronto, he projects best as a long-term starter. He is an extremely capable starting pitcher who is comparable to current Tribe prospect Danny Salazar: electrifying stuff with limited control. Stroman could be a top-of-the-rotation arm and would likely step in as the team's second or third starter in 2015 and beyond.

    Stroman made his first big league start on Saturday night, allowing one run over six innings in a win against the Kansas City Royals.

    This move would be more likely if the Tribe are out of contention at the deadline and can put together the right package—likely centered around Masterson—to make a steal from a team desperate to compete in the American League East.

Christian Walker

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Orioles are believed to be major contenders for Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija. Should they whiff on that acquisition, Baltimore could be looking for another elite pitcher at the deadline and Cleveland could dangle Justin Masterson in a midseason trade.

    With the Orioles likely to sign Chris Davis to a long-term deal, first base prospect Christian Walker may be an expendable piece in Baltimore’s farm.

    In 56 games at Double-A Bowie this season, Walker has hit .314 and found his power stroke, hitting 15 home runs with 47 RBI. He is not a natural power hitter, as his 15 round-trippers are the most in any one season in his minor league career, but he is an outstanding hitter whose ability to hit for both power and average would be a welcomed relief at Progressive Field.

    Walker could still use another year in the minor leagues, but his eventual rise to the big leagues would provide the Tribe with some much needed power from the right side of the plate. He and Jesus Aguilar could give the Tribe two big boppers to complement Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis in the Tribe's long-term plans.

Matt Barnes

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Much like San Francisco, the Boston farm system is loaded with pitching talent. Henry Owens, Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo are all pitching in Double-A or Triple A and each project to be an impact pitcher.

    At 24 years old, Barnes may be the most likely trade candidate. Like Escobar, Barnes has also endured a tough stretch in Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 1-4 record with a 5.01 ERA through seven starts.

    Barnes, who was drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft, has devastating stuff, as evidenced by his 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings at Double-A in 2013. Like many young pitchers, though, he is frequently erratic and has walked more than three batters per nine innings this season.

    This trade likely would not cost the Tribe their ace, as Nick Cafardo reports a possible interest in David Murphy to help bolster the Red Sox outfield. Cleveland could return good value for Murphy while exploring other options to fill their need for a right-handed middle-of-the-order presence at the deadline.

    If Barnes can silence concerns about his command, the 6’4” former University of Connecticut standout could become a valuable piece to the Tribe’s youthful rotation.