We are a month and a half away from the MLB trade deadline, but with teams beginning to separate in June, many general managers have already started to work the market.
With the toughest stretch of the 2013 season behind them, the Tribe is currently right at .500. However, to say the team has been inconsistent is an understatement.
The Indians have been streaky to start the season, but sit firmly in the picture midway through June. Things can change before the deadline, but right now the Indians are contenders and a team that will be buying come the deadline barring falling apart.
The Indians are in need of an arm to help stabilize the starting rotation. Brett Myers will be out for quite a while and his return doesn’t seem to excite many Tribe fans. Meanwhile, Corey Kluber has cemented himself in the Indians starting rotation, Ubaldo Jimenez has turned things around and Justin Masterson has been the ace that the organization needed him to be. Zach McAllister has been solid in his first full year, but is banged up currently. However, Scott Kazmir has been inconsistent at times and one of the main reasons the Indians would love to add another solid arm.
The offense has had its ups and downs, and there are needs, but the greatest need is in a left-handed reliever or help in the starting rotation.
First, here are a few Indians that may be on the market as the team looks for a piece to add in hopes of a playoff run.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Believe it or not, the shortstop’s days could be numbered in Cleveland. Maybe not this year, but the Indians top prospect, Francisco Lindor, is right behind him and making his way up the ranks in the Cleveland organization. Cabrera has been the face of the franchise for the past two years, making the All-Star game in both, but fading down the stretch. Cabrera hit .244 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs in the second half after hitting .293 and last year he hit .251 with fiver homers and 26 RBIs in the second half. The Indians were close to dealing the shortstop in the offseason. One of the biggest worries for the Indians with Cabrera is whether he can stay in shape and battle weight problems that may be the reason he has struggled late in the year.
Tony Wolters – The 5’10 shortstop has been moved around the infield in his time in the minors with the Tribe, mainly due to Asdrubal Cabrera’s stability at the major league level and the rise of top prospect Francisco Lindor. Widely considered a top 10 prospect for the Indians, Wolters is expendable with the depth the Indians have at the shortstop position (Lindor, Cabrera and Ronny Rodriguez in AA-Akron). However, if he can move around the infield and be versatile, the Indians may have extra reason to keep the farmhand.
Don’t Get Your Hopes Up:
Cliff Lee (LHP, Philadelphia Phillies) – The Indians need pitching. And a return to Cleveland for Lee would work wonders for the rotation and instantly make the Indians a serious playoff contender. The 34-year old is a free agent in 2016 and has a couple years left in the tank at least. The Phillies are currently four games under .500 and if they continue to fall, Lee and a couple other key pieces in Philadelphia could be on the market. Cliff Lee is the best case scenario for the Indians. However, even if the Phillies falter, it will take a lot to pry the Cy Young winner away from Philadelphia.
David Price (RHP, Tampa Bay Rays) – The Cy Young award winner will become a free agent in 2015 and all signs point towards the Rays dealing him before then. However, Tampa Bay is very much in the race this year despite Price’s injury problems. It will take a lot, and that means Lindor plus other prospects, to pull Price out of Tampa and into a Tribe uniform.
Bud Norris (RHP, Houston Astros) – The 28-year old is in his fifth season in the MLB and has held his own despite being surrounded by a weak team in Houston. Over five years, Norris has posted a 4.30 ERA and this season holds a 5-6 record with a 3.47 ERA. He has struck out 57 batters in 83 innings. Norris is one of eight National League pitchers to throw at least 150 strikeouts in each of the last three seasons. He averages about 92-93 MPH on his fastball and can hit 96. He is best known for a very strong slider, widely considered one of the best in baseball. Norris is locked up under contract until 2016. The Indians will not be the only team going after the Houston arm, but if they are willing to overpay a bit, Norris could be in a Tribe uniform in August.
Matt Garza (RHP, Chicago Cubs) – The 29-year old has had real injury problems lately and is working his way back to form. This year he is 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in six starts and is coming off of a seven-inning performance where he allowed no runs on three hits against the New York Mets. If Garza can show consistency and stay healthy, he is a definite possibility for the Tribe. Garza could come cheaper as the Cubs may be desperate to get rid of him as he is on his last year of a contract. Garza is still young and owns a career 3.68 ERA in the second half of the season.
Brian Duensing (LHP, Minnesota Twins) – It is almost assured that the Twins will have a handful of names on the market come July 31, but the question for the Indians and Twins in a deal for Duensing would be whether division rivals could make a deal together. The Indians need left handed relief help and Duensing would be just that. The lefty has bounced back and forth from the starting rotation to the bullpen, but has stabilized in the bullpen over the last couple of seasons. This year, Duensing is 2-1 with a 3.70 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched with 20 strikeouts. The Indians desperately need the help and 30-year old (free agent in 2016) should be available.
Scott Feldman (RHP, Chicago Cubs) – Feldman has been very strong at 30-years old for the Cubs this year, holding a 6-5 record with a 3.05 ERA. Feldman would be a rental as he will become a free agent after this year. Feldman could just be off to a fast start, but he is another expendable arm for the Cubs and has had a strong start. If he continues to pitch this strong, he could be a cheaper option for the Tribe.
Ricky Nolasco (RHP, Miami Marlins) – The Marlins will be looking to dump salary at the deadline and their highest paid player, a 30-year old Nolasco, will be on the trading block. Nolasco is 3-7 this year, but has a 3.80 ERA. His record is mainly due to the worst offense in baseball that surrounds him. Nolasco has 72 strikeouts in 87.2 innings and will require the Indians to pick up his $11 million salary this year before he becomes a free agent in 2014. It will make him pretty cheap in regards to prospects or players in return.