Ryan Ludwig and Heath Bell are two perennial All-Stars in the prime of their careers.
Bell, 34 years old, has been dynamite the last three seasons as the Padres' closer. After taking over from future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, Bell has been to three straight All-Star games and has recorded 40-plus saves the past two seasons.
Perhaps the best reliever in the National League, the Padres are looking to receive some compensation for Bell, as he becomes a free agent at season’s end.
Picking up Bell would be a huge confidence-booster for the Indians and would give them potentially the best bullpen in baseball when paired with current All-Star closer Chris Perez, along with valuable relievers Rafael Perez and Joe Smith.
Also walking after the season is slugger Ryan Ludwick, whom the Padres acquired last season from the Cardinals in a late-season push.
Ludwick would be a major pickup for the Indians, who have been perhaps the biggest surprise in baseball this season. The Indians have a shaky outfield with slugger Shin-Soo Choo out until late August with a broken thumb, the fragile Grady Sizemore patrolling center field and Austin Kearns suffering through a season-long slump. Unproven Michael Brantley has been good in limited time, but the Indians could use another bat.
Ludwick is currently only batting .242 with 11 home runs, but plays in the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park. Ludwick would at the very least provide a threat to a lineup that only has Travis Hafner as a consistent big-bopper.
The Indians would have to take the rest of both Ludwick’s and Bell’s salary, plus give up top prospects in order to get the two highly-coveted players. Left-handed pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz or even third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, both top 50 prospects overall, would have to be considered.
With this move, however, the Indians could suddenly become the team to beat not only in the AL Central, but in the entire American League, even up against the powerful Yankees and Red Sox.