Potential Trade Candidates for the Cleveland Indians

One of the biggest question marks remaining for the Cleveland Indians roster is who will be in the outfield assuming there will be some sort of MLB season in 2020. There are a few returners worth noting such as Oscar Mercado, Franmil Reyes, and Tyler Naquin. These guys are likely locks for the opening day roster as Mercado should maintain the starting CF spot, Reyes will serve as the DH most days while occasionally playing in a corner spot, and Naquin will look to continue as a mainstay on the team with a productive but injury-riddled four year run with the team. That leaves only a few more spots for outfielders on the big league roster with a bit of a logjam of talent left on the 40-man Progressive Field roster.

Other returning players include: Greg Allen, Jake Bauers, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Luplow, and Bradley Zimmer. They are joined by the off-season additions of Delino DeShields Jr via the Corey Kluber trade and Domingo Santana via free agency. All of these guys are plenty capable of making the big league roster, and they all have some experience at the big league level with the exception of Daniel Johnson, who is a pretty exciting and highly regarded prospect. This will make the decision of who should get those couple spots for Francona and the front office led by Chris Antonetti all the more difficult. An interesting thing to note is that with eight quality players left to fill a few more roster spots, the outfielders on the roster become immediate trade candidates to try and bolster another part of the Tribe such as the bullpen, or they can continue to add to their pool of prospects.

The best way to figure out who might’ve traded would be to rule out the guys who are not likely to be dealt away. First, it’s reasonable to rule out Oscar Mercado because he’s going to be in an Indians uniform for a while assuming he continues his ascension. Franmil Reyes is a crucial part of the lineup, and there’s no way the Tribe will trade him after how great he looked this offseason and in spring training. Considering Delino DeShields Jr was just a key cog in the trade to send away one of the best pitchers in franchise history, Corey Kluber, it is fair to assume he’s staying in Cleveland as well. Since Daniel Johnson is highly regarded as a prospect in the organization after being acquired in the Yan Gomes trade, it wouldn’t make much sense to ship him out either before he even gets to the major league level. Yasiel Puig seemed like a great fit for Cleveland and is still on the market, but after looking at Domingo Santana’s numbers, it seems that the Indians found their bargain bin Puig replacement. It’s hard to envision Domingo not finishing his one year deal still with Cleveland.

This leaves Greg Allen, Jake Bauers, Jordan Luplow, Tyler Naquin, and Bradley Zimmer. The Tribe will most likely give Bauers at least one more year since he’s still young, and there’s no problem putting him in the minors to play everyday and get better at this point. With Bradley Zimmer finally recovered from his injury that’s kept him out for one and a half years, his trade value might not be so great, but it might also be in the team’s best interest to deal him away while they can instead of having another Danny Salazar situation. The most likely trade candidates are probably Greg Allen, Jordan Luplow, and Tyler Naquin. Zimmer remains a definite possibility, but he might just not have any value at this point. Judging by how Cleveland handled their organizational logjam at Starting Pitcher last season that lead to dealing Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see two or three of the outfielders be traded by next season.

Of course, the caliber of the players is not nearly the levels of Bauer and Kluber, so the return will be much more modest. With that being said, it’s not unimaginable to think that the Tribe will find a quality prospect or two, or even a couple guys that can help the roster right away in another area, like the bullpen. It will be an exciting thing to monitor as the MLB season approaches as well as the trade deadline. Expect at least 1 of Greg Allen, Jordan Luplow, or Tyler Naquin to be traded because all three of them deserve the chance at consistent MLB at bats. Beyond that, Cleveland will eventually have to free some play time for their younger guys like Daniel Johnson, Jake Bauers, and George Valera. It just makes too much sense not to happen, so hopefully Cleveland can acquire a shiny new bullpen arm or a prospect in return.

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