Who Will the Cleveland Indians Trade Next?

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Who Will the Cleveland Indians Trade Next?
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Over the weekend, the Cleveland Indians started the process of what many believe is their fire sale to end their 2009 season.

Mark Shapiro and company believe that there is still a sliver of hope, because they traded from a deep spot to improve on a weak one and did it with major league talent.

However, one relief pitcher is not enough to turn a season around.

Healed injuries to Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jake Westbrook, and Aaron Laffey, combined with the turnaround of Fausto Carmona and several key bullpen components would be enough, but how many names did I just mention?

In other words, unlikely is the answer to the question, "Can the Indians turn it around, despite being in last place in the entire American League at the start of June?"

So while the Indians twiddle their thumbs for the next few weeks, trying to do their best to turn it around, everyone else is going to speculate as to which player is next to be dealt.

There are several candidates, as once again the Indians have some players that are going to be free agents either this year or the next.

The difference is, the Indians didn't plan on bringing back CC Sabathia, Paul Byrd, or Casey Blake.

This year, the talent isn't as star-studded and there is a chance that the Tribe could bring back some of the pieces that they could trade.

When I say the talent isn't as start-studded, I'm no doubt not including Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee from the discussion of soon-to-be free agents that could be traded.

Why is that?

I guess we should just start from the top and work our way down. For reference, here is the 40-man roster and salary chart, which is my main source for all contract information.

 

SP Cliff Lee

Current Salary: $6,000,000

Years Left: One, Option Year for 2010

Should he be traded?

There were some people out there that wanted to trade Cliff Lee before the season started because they either thought Lee was a fluke, or they wanted to maximize his value.

I can't formulate a word for those people, but I don't agree with them. Not in the least bit.

Lee proved that he wasn't a fluke, and, if anything, he's only increased his value by proving last year wasn't a fluke.

So should the Tribe get rid of their Cy Young ace for the second year in a row at the deadline?

Absolutely not.

With an option year left on his contract and the slight chance that they could re-sign him after, there is no reason to trade him. Lee won't command as much money or as long of a deal as Sabathia did because of his age and overall hype.

The Indians also expect to contend in 2010 and they can't do that without an ace pitcher, something they currently don't have if they get rid of Lee.

Will he be traded?

No, but reports have indicated that the Indians would listen to an offer if it was something that they could simply not refuse. It would have to be a mega-package though that would include a major league ready starting pitcher.

 

C Victor Martinez

Current Salary: $5,700,000

Years Left: One, Option Year for 2010

Should he be traded?

There is absolutely no reason to trade Victor Martinez and there is one main reason why. He's your best player and there is a very good chance that you can re-sign him after his option year in 2010 is over. He won't cost a bundle like Sabathia did either.

There are also many other reasons why you shouldn't trade Martinez.

Let's start with the fact that you'll absolutely crush the fan base if you trade away a fan favorite such as Martinez. No one plays harder and cares more about the Cleveland Indians organization than Victor.

You will alienate everyone, and the attendance at games will continue to plummet at a harsher rate than it already is now.

Martinez is also the bona fide leader of this team, their heart and soul. If you trade him, you send a very disheartened message to everyone about next year and their chances.

Plus, he has an option year. Why would you trade an All-Star catcher that has an option year for the cheap price of $7 million?

Will he be traded?

Not a chance. While the Indians might entertain a very good offer for Lee, they won't listen to any for Martinez.

IF Jamey Carroll

Current Salary: $2,500,000

Years Left: One

Should he be traded?

Everyone has to like Jamey Carroll and anyone would love to have him on their team.

However, Carroll is nothing more than a utility man that can play a little more often than a regular utility man plays. He can start for stretches at crucial infield spots and help you through an injury.

He's done it multiple times since he's been in an Indians uniform these past two years.

However a guy like Carroll should be nothing more than a luxury. At the time the Indians acquired him, they believed he was a luxury they could afford and perhaps one of the few missing pieces between the Indians and a visit to the World Series.

With the Indians needing to start with fielding a basic team that can contend next year, Carroll's price tag is one that the Indians can't afford to pay, even if he plays more than a regular utility man.

They've also got in-house options to take over his spot, at a much cheaper rate as well. They could pay Josh Barfield and Chris Gimenez to play the same spots, and Barfield could provide the same type of style of play with Gimenez adding a little pop.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I believe the Indians should part ways with Carroll. Any National League team would love to have him for a run in the postseason and you could get something decent in return.

Will he be traded?

I think so, at least when the Indians confirm that they are out of the race. They'll trade Carroll and start grooming both Barfield and Gimenez to take over his role next year.

 

SP Carl Pavano

Current Salary: $1,500,000 plus incentives

Years Left: One

Should he be traded?

The Indians got more than their fans expected out of Carl Pavano this season.

He had a rough start that was followed by a few games in which the offense didn't give him much help.

Then he turned it on in the month of May and showed why the Indians invested some risk into signing him. He hit a few rough games, an adjustment to pitching this much, but has seemingly got himself back on track this past time out.

How much is Pavano really worth though? He's pretty much earned the one and a half million the Indians paid and will pay him for the guaranteed portion of his deal. He'll start earning more cash with his 18th start, which is two starts away.

And as long as he pitches well, all that cash that he gets for starting those games would be money well earned on his part.

I wouldn't personally trade Pavano, but rather look into extending him beyond this year. The Indians could use a guy like him, a veteran pitcher at the end of their rotation to give them innings, mostly good starts, and the occasional brilliant one.

The doubt of Carmona and Westbrook puts this thought into my mind. But if they both turn out to be okay and viable options, Pavano sort of becomes expendable.

We won't know any of that by the trading deadline though, and it might be unlikely that Pavano can net you any sort of draft pick compensation if he becomes a free agent.

You can see the pickle the Indians could find themselves in if the time comes to make a decision on Pavano.

Will he be traded?

Like I just said, even I can't decide if they should, which leads me to believe not even the Indians are really sure what side of the fence they would be on. I guess it's one of those, cross the bridge when we get there type deals.

 

Other trading chips

When he comes off the disabled list, Rafael Betancourt is in the same boat as Lee and Martinez. He has an option for the 2010 season that could be exercised. However, $5 million for a relief pitcher seems like a lot, especially with the Indians in possession of a $10 million closer.

I'd much rather decline his option and offer him arbitration. They could either get a more suitable salary for The Gavel, get a sandwich compensation pick in return if he signs elsewhere, or get a new deal done.

I mentioned Kerry Wood, and while he hasn't been involved in any rumors yet, some people have an idea of trading Wood because they believe he is in the same boat as Carroll. He's a luxury for a championship caliber team, not one that is still looking to contend.

I wouldn't deal Wood though and I don't think the Indians will. They want to contend next year, and Wood has to be a part of that given they need bullpen arms. If he gets more consistent closing chances, he should be much better.

Not a lot of people like Ryan Garko very much and I don't know why. Some people want to trade him because he's getting wasted around here; some just want to trade him because they really believe he sucks.

Garko did knock in 90 runs last year, and when he's gotten consistent playing time this year, he's been good.

Wedge is committed to getting Garko more consistent playing time for the time being.  That could be to showcase him, or it really could be genuine with the failings of Kelly Shoppach.

I wouldn't trade Garko, but rather make him my everyday first baseman.

Of course there are other names floating around, spare parts such as Jeremy Sowers and Ben Francisco. I believe those two specifically can have roles on this team and for the price we are paying for them, why not?

Francisco fits the prototypical role of fourth outfielder. Although he may have more value than that to trade, what are you really going to get in return for him unless someone sees something special that they think is there?

Sowers meanwhile, isn't a starting pitcher, at least not in this stage of his career. He's excellent the first and even second time through the lineup and has gone out start after start and has shut the opposition down for the first few innings.

However, the average of opposing batters is well over .500 when the hitter is facing Sowers for the third time.

I'd use Sowers as a two-inning relief pitcher for the time being rather than trade him. I don't know if you could get much for him unless you put him in a package, and I don't think the Indians are going to do that right now but the thought has been brought up.

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