MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Info on Mike Clevinger, Kevin Gausman and MoreAugust 28, 2020
Starting pitching should take center stage at this year's MLB trade deadline, which will close on Monday at 4 p.m. ET.
This year's deadline will be unlike any we've ever seen on the MLB landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a four-month delay to the start of a 60-game season.
The deadline is a month later than usual, and with the playoffs set to begin in five weeks, it will be interesting to see how aggressive teams may be.
With the playoff field expanded to 16 teams, more franchises will be in the hunt for playoff berths as the calendar turns to September, leading to front offices asking themselves whether they should be buyers or sellers at the deadline.
Regardless of the outcome, starting pitching is more important than ever before this year with the shortened slate. Every game takes on far more importance than during a typical 162-game season, so one bad start down the stretch could help sabotage a team's year.
With that in mind, here's a look at a trio of pitchers who may be available as the deadline nears.
Cleveland SP Mike Clevinger
Mike Clevinger could be on the move before Monday, per ESPN's Buster Olney.
"Teams say that Mike Clevinger is very much on the table, with the Indians absolutely willing to move him for the right offer...and the Indians are well-known process- and value-driven in their trade talks, staunch and particular negotiators."
The New York Yankees have been mentioned as a potential suitor, per SNY.tv's Andy Martino: "As SNY has previously reported, the Yanks have also called the Cleveland Indians, who might move Mike Clevinger."
Clevinger went 38-18 with a 2.96 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 rate from 2017-2019, encompassing his three full years as a starter. The 29-year-old right-hander has gone 1-1 this year with a 3.18 ERA and 21 punchouts over 22.2 frames.
Cleveland is likely headed to the playoffs at 19-12 and second in the American League Central, and Clevinger is under team control through 2022, per Cot's Contracts.
But the issue is Cleveland's bats, which have been ice cold. The team is hitting just .217, the fourth-worst mark in the bigs. Its .667 OPS is third-worst.
However, Cleveland has an embarrassment of pitching riches led by staff ace and likely American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber (6-0, 1.35 ERA) and backed by Carlos Carrasco and Aaron Civale. Might they deal Clevinger for some hitting help?
ESPN's Jeff Passan discussed the benefits and potential drawbacks of a trade:
"Trading the 29-year-old Clevinger would epitomize risk. He's an elite starter with at least two more years of team control—three if the team keeps him on option for 20 or more days. Cleveland also desperately needs a quality outfielder. Over 334 plate appearances this season, its outfielders are hitting a collective .166/.273/.249. That is pitcher-quality offense among a group of position players."
Clevinger, who broke team health and safety protocols and went out in Chicago amid the COVID-19 pandemic during a road series with the White Sox, was recently isolated and working out at the team's alternate training site.
He returned to the mound Thursday following a three-week absence and tossed six frames of two-run ball with six strikeouts against the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.
San Francisco Giants SP Kevin Gausman
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Kevin Gausman's time in the Bay Area may be over after just five weeks.
The 29-year-old right-hander has been the subject of trade rumors, with SNY.tv's Andy Martino reporting Tuesday that the Yanks have reached out to the Giants to speak about Gausman, who is 1-2 with a 4.54 ERA.
His mediocre ERA hides how well Gausman has pitched at times this season, though, as the ex-Baltimore Oriole has struck out 48 batters in 35.2 innings.
Gausman would prefer to stay in town, per MLB Trade Rumors' Mark Polishuk, although that may not happen.
"His preference, of course, is to not be dealt at all," Polishuk wrote, "though the righty’s quality work and rental player status makes him one of the top candidates to be dealt before Monday."
Gausman made his opinion clear on Thursday after a start against the Dodgers, saying: "I don't want to leave these guys, honestly," per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The rebuilding Giants sport a 15-18 record but are in the thick of the NL playoff race given the new postseason rules for this year. Of note, they are a half-game behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the eighth and final NL playoff spot right now.
Still, Gausman is on a one-year deal, and the Giants, while sporting promising talent like Mike Yastrzemski and Joey Bart, don't appear ready for National League pennant contention. Gausman could very well be on the move before Monday.
Los Angeles Angels SP Dylan Bundy
Speaking of ex-Baltimore Oriole right-handed starting pitchers in their late 20s enjoying a fresh start in California, Dylan Bundy has been lights out for the Los Angeles Angels, going 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 38.1 innings.
It's no surprise that he's a hot commodity, then, with USA Today's Bob Nightengale dropping this line Monday: "The Los Angeles Angels, who have already received numerous inquiries on starter Dylan Bundy, are open for business."
Selling at the deadline is a no-brainer move for the 10-22 Angels, who sport the league's worst win-loss record.
The team has a core to build around Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani alongside promising prospects led by Jo Adell, but the roster is largely a giant question mark as the team finishes out what appears to be a lost season and looks toward 2021.
There also appear to be some questions about the team's front office, per MLB Network and New York Post's Joel Sherman on Tuesday: "What hovers over all decisions is there's probably not a general manager on thinner ice as we speak toward the end of August right now than Billy Eppler, so the question will be, is he allowed to make big trades...?"
The answer to that question will reveal itself within a few days, but Bundy could be heavily targeted. He's under team control through 2021 and appears to be fulfilling the potential that made him the fourth overall selection in the 2011 draft.
Bundy had an up-and-down career in Baltimore, but his stock is sky-high now as he enjoys a career-best year. The question is whether he finishes it in Anaheim or elsewhere.