5 Best-Case Trade Scenarios for the Cleveland Indians at the Deadline
At six games back in the AL Central and 5.5 games back in the wild-card standings, the Indians have become sellers. Teams go on streaks, just look south in Ohio and see the Cincinnati Reds thriving tremendously without their superstar, Joey Votto. However, after being swept by the lowly Minnesota Twins, the Indians have dug their own grave, going 3-7 in their last 10 games while the Tigers and White Sox have been hot throughout the month of July.
After the Tribe loss on Sunday, it is time to take the steps necessary to look for 2013 to be their season. As management sat back and waited for Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan to get things going, the Tigers acquired Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to fill their only two glaring holes, and the White Sox dealt for Kevin Youkilis and added to their pitching depth by getting Francisco Liriano from the Twins. But, hey...Roberto Hernandez, aka Fausto Carmona, is allowed back in the United States, so they have something to be excited about, right?
While the teams around them in the top of the AL Central standings did what they needed to do to maintain their success or gain more, Cleveland ownership was lazy and arrogant, thinking that veterans with little success in the 2012 season were going to explode for their offense at any point.
Sell now and hope for success next season. Maybe management will take an aggressive approach to fill areas of need after another season of a collapse and lazy attempts to win in a top-heavy division.
Trade Shin-Soo Choo to Texas
There have been two players that the Indians could count on this season: Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. Choo has rebounded from a miserable 2011 season to post a .295/.382/.495 line, with 12 home runs, 32 doubles, 11 stolen bases and 39 RBI, primarily out of the leadoff spot for the Indians in 2012. Not that the Rangers need another offensive force, but, why not?
Choo is another left-handed bat to fight off the Los Angeles Angels' acquisition of Zack Greinke, while it allows Nelson Cruz to move to left field so that Choo can continue to thrive with his tremendous arm in right in Arlington.
With the success that Choo has had in the leadoff role for the Tribe, he could take that role from Ian Kinsler, allowing the slugging second baseman to thrive in a run producing role. Choo could also fill the middle of the order, giving the Rangers another left-handed bat between Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.
Because Choo is controlled for the 2013 season prior to hitting free agency, he would get a nice return for the Tribe.
The Best-Case Scenario:
Indians deal Shin-Soo Choo to the Texas Rangers
Rougned Odor, 2B/SS, Low-A: Great numbers, very young, solid compliment to the middle of the infield for Francisco Lindor.
Cody Buckel, RHP, Double-A: He has struggled at times since his promotion to Double-A, but Buckel has dominant numbers since becoming a professional.
Matthew West, RHP, High-A: Poor results this year, but he has a live arm and a nice fastball. A nice piece as a potential long-term bullpen arm.
Trade Rafael Perez to San Francisco
Rafael Perez has had an injury-plagued 2012 season, having pitched in only eight games to this point. Perez has a nice track record, though, compiling a 3.64 ERA over 338 games, allowing left-handers to hit .256/.323/.355 and right-handers to hit .255/.317/.377. He doesn't dominate anyone, but he is very serviceable.
San Francisco is leading the NL West and could use another left-handed relief pitcher. Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are the only left-handers in their bullpen, currently, and with Andre Ethier in the Dodgers lineup, they could afford to have another asset if things come to matchups in an upcoming series.
Perez is eligible for arbitration for the 2013 season and will be a free agent in 2014, so he could, like Choo, net the Indians a nice package. However, as a bullpen arm, he won't get nearly as much in return. The Giants don't have a great farm system, so the Indians could look for a couple of lower level starting pitchers to hope that they find a gem, as the Giants are known for developing solid starters.
The Best-Case Scenario:
Cleveland trades Rafael Perez to San Francisco
Michael Kickham, LHP, Double-A: Mixed results prior to 2012, but Kickham has a nice 2.96 ERA and is a solid, breathing left-handed pitcher. He's worth a shot if they can get him.
Derek Law, RHP, Low-A: Low-level relief prospect, with a nice fastball and solid results.
Trade Derek Lowe to Atlanta
Atlanta was paying most of Lowe's salary in 2012, and the least the Indians could do is deal him back to the Braves at a discount for the trouble, right? Lowe has been awful since mid-May for the Indians, compiling a 5.09 ERA and just 40 strikeouts in 116.2 innings for the Tribe. Of course, Lowe was not much better in three seasons in Atlanta, posting a 40-39 record and 4.57 ERA over 101 starts and 575.1 innings for the Braves.
Lowe could be insurance for when Ben Sheets gets hurt again, or if Mike Minor does not pitch well as the Braves fight on to catch the Washington Nationals in the NL East. While Lowe has struggled for several seasons, he is one of those "experienced" arms, having pitched in 23 post-season games, including 12 starts.
The Indians would be kind and smart to just hand Lowe over for free, but they should probably get something for him, right?
The Best-Case Scenario:
Cleveland trades Derek Lowe to Atlanta
Dimasther Delgado, LHP, High-A: He is 23 years old and is not Derek Lowe. He is also left-handed and had solid numbers in the Atlanta pitching machine farm system.
Trade Chris Perez to Cincinnati
Hear me out on this, I know it seems crazy for two reasons:
1. The Reds do not need a closer with Aroldis Chapman around.
2. Why would the Indians trade their closer when he is under team control until 2015?
1. Aroldis Chapman is supposed to be a starting pitcher, which is what the Reds wanted him to be and what they still want him to be. With Ryan Madson guaranteed $11 million or a $2.5 million buyout after this season, while coming back from Tommy John surgery, you can bet that he will not be in Cincinnati next year. They will need a closer and another dominant bullpen arm is always nice for a team sitting 21 games over .500.
2. Vinnie Pestano is very good. Chris Perez and his antics and behavior toward fans could be nice to move. He made $4.5 million in 2012 and is eligible for arbitration two more times, as well, so he is going to be expensive for Cleveland to keep if he keeps saving a lot of games for a bad team.
Perez has 89 saves since joining the Tribe via St. Louis, while posting a 2.87 ERA over 199 games. He is a nice piece to trade and he could get a nice return for the Indians.
While this would make very little sense for the Reds to do right now, Walt Jocketty could be looking ahead to next season by making this move. The Reds have a lot of solid arms that would interest the Indians, so while the deal looks absurd on the surface, it is something that I probably just made you think a little bit about, right?
The Best-Case Scenario:
Cleveland trades Chris Perez to Cincinnati
Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, Double-A: He pitched in the Futures Game in Kansas City earlier this month, Lotzkar has good stuff and nice strikeout totals. He had Tommy John surgery and has posted nice numbers since returning. The ERA is inflated, but the stuff is there.
J.C. Sulbaran, RHP, Double-A: Another pitcher with great strikeout totals. Sulbaran has an inflated ERA, as well, but you have to gamble on guys with electric stuff.
David Vidal, 3B, Double-A: Solid power in a small frame (5'11"), Vidal is a right-handed hitting third baseman who was promoted from High-A already this year. He is 22 years old and would be a nice piece to take on for the future.
Trade Justin Masterson to Boston
Just like Chris Perez, the Indians do not have any great reasons to trade Justin Masterson. Masterson won't hit free agency until 2015 and he is just 27 years old. However, it was announced by Danny Knobler of CBS Sports on Sunday that the Indians are open to dealing the right-hander, with the Red Sox and Rangers having scouted his disastrous start on Saturday against Minnesota.
Masterson is 26-39 with a 4.09 ERA over 101 games (94 starts) since joining the Indians. The Rangers are looking for another starter and have resources to get the deal done, but the Red Sox need him more as they make a push for the AL wild card, as they are just 4.5 games out. Boston has to be aggressive, even as they sit in last place in the AL East, because Boston fans expect effort given their financial resources and fan support.
Masterson is dominant at times, but he seems to get whiplash from watching all of the hits. Saturday was a perfect example of his ability to frustrate, while the entire month of June was dominance.
The issue is the Indians do not need another top-of-the-rotation arm that is inconsistent. They need to build a team from the bottom up, collecting enough pieces to hope that they find lightning in a bottle. Dealing Perez and/or Masterson allows that.
The Best-Case Scenario:
Cleveland trades Justin Masterson to Boston
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Low-A: Left-handed hitter with solid plate discipline, Cecchini has power hidden in his 21-year-old body. At 6'2", 200 pounds, Cecchini is in a lower-level of the minors and has 28 doubles in 366 at-bats. Some of those will go out as he continues to develop.
Ryan Lavarnway, C/1B, Triple-A: Lavarnway has not posted ridiculous numbers like he did last season, but he is still very capable of hitting at the major league level. He is a right-handed bat and he is ready, so he has a lot of immediate value, taking away from what the Tribe can get back in this deal. While it is a risk to trade him to Boston, since David Ortiz is a free agent after the season, the Red Sox can afford to replace him elsewhere.
The Best-Case Scenario
The Best-Case Scenario:
The Indians make all of these moves, or a couple of them, and they catch fire...somehow...and grab the AL wild card.
This team is not deep enough to compete with Los Angeles or even Detroit for the wild card, though. While you can try to be patient and hope that the current team goes on a streak, it has not happened through 102 games, can it happen in the last 60?
The Indians need to get something for what they have and move on. It is frustrating for fans and it could be frustrating for the players that remain after the trades, but when you do not guarantee Josh Willingham a third year, as they did this past offseason, and you need a right-handed, power-hitting left fielder, you are forced to pay for your mistakes. One simple signing, like Willingham prior to the 2012 season, could have made the Indians a contending team. Legitimately.
One move. That is all that was needed when they let the Chicago White Sox get Kevin Youkilis, a player that could have filled several roles for the Indians, for a box of donuts.
That is all that was needed when you refuse to move one player, say Francisco Lindor, for a huge upgrade, as they could have done by acquiring Hanley Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez from the Miami Marlins, but they let the Tigers get Sanchez and Omar Infante, and the Dodgers gave up a lesser prospect for Ramirez.
Aaron Cunningham is gone. Many of you probably breathed a sigh of relief on that one, as I did. Who is next? Why not make a deal? Why not shake things up completely? Can they play any worse than they did for three games against Minnesota?