2011 MLB Trade Speculation: Could Cleveland Indians Be Buyers at Deadline?

Adam HawkinsContributor IIIMay 31, 2011

1Jul 2001:  Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians in action against the Kansas City Royals at Jacob's Field in Cleveland, Ohio. The Royals won 13-11 . DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit : Tom Pidgeon/Allsport
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians were expected to have a rebuilding season after a 90-loss season in 2010.

However, through the first 52 games, the Indians have 32 wins and only 20 losses, giving them one of the best records in baseball.

Instead of rebuilding, the Indians are contending throughout the first third of the season and if the success continues, expect the Tribe to become buyers at the trade deadline rather than being sellers as most predicted.

Indians first-year general manager Chris Antonetti has a huge decision ahead of him come the trade deadline and he must determine whether to add to his contending team or sell his older players for prospects and building blocks for the future.

It seems as if Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro would become buyers if the team is in position to win as July's trade deadline approaches.

ESPN.com reported a trade rumor on May 30, noting that Minnesota Twins designated hitter Jim Thome may return to Cleveland where he spent the first 12 seasons of his career in the majors.

Current designated hitter Travis Hafner on the disabled list with a right oblique strain and has been out of the Indians lineup since May 17.

However, the Twins would likely not deal Thome until after he hit his 600th home run. Thome currently has 593 home runs and just returned from injury. In his first game back, Thome hit two home runs.

If the Twins wait to deal Thome, Hafner may return from the disabled list, leaving the Indians with two left-handed designated hitters with injury problems.

In addition to replacing Hafner in the Indians lineup, the team could also use help in their starting rotation. Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson have been major surprises as starting pitchers, but Fausto Carmona has been disappointing, posting just two wins in 12 starts.

With all the success the Indians have had offensively, a boost in starting pitcher could give the team a major shot at making the postseason.