Let’s be honest, Ubaldo Jimenez trade aside, the current Indians front office has never really pulled a big trade midseason to improve the team. We’ve seen them trade off plenty of good players like CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez. And over the past couple seasons we’ve seen them stand pat and do nothing. When (not if) the Indians get back in contention, they will most likely stand pat again, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing with the amount of the depth they have in the minors. But there is another way to go with all that depth, and that would be trading it. So here is a list of four players the Indians should trade for….but won’t.
With the Brewers currently bringing up the rear with an 18-34 record, it looks like it’s time to sell your Brewers stock. The Brewers not only have the worst record, but also have one of the worst farm systems in the majors. While Michael Bourn is the Indians current centerfielder, and is making $13.5 million, Gomez would be an immediate upgrade over everything Bourn brings to the table. While the Indians do need an upgrade at the centerfield position, trading for Gomez would create an outfield logjam with Brantley, Bourn, Gomez, Murphy, Raburn, Moss, and Swisher. It’s unlikely that the Brewers would take Bourn, Murphy, Raburn, or Swisher, but that’s only because the Brewers are in desperate need for young talent.
However, if the Brewers want to dump Aramis Ramirez or Kyle Lohse, then I could see the Indians moving Swisher or Bourn. The two trade possibilities would be this: Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez (or Kyle Lohse) for Michael Bourn (or Nick Swisher) and prospects. Or it could just be a straight up Carlos Gomez for prospects. Not sold on Carlos Gomez? Over the 2013 through 2014 seasons, Gomez has averaged a slash line of .284/.347/.491, 24 HR, 73 RBI, and 37 SB, with a 6.7 WAR. Injuries have hurt his 2015 numbers, but he is still playing at an above replacement level. Gomez wouldn’t be a rental player and wouldn’t break the bank. Gomez is signed through next season, and is making $8 million this season, and is set to make $9 million next season.
With the Rangers currently one of the hottest teams in baseball, it’s unclear how much of a selling mood they will be in come July 31. Joey Gallo may have some things to say. Beltre just went on the DL with a right thumb sprain, and the Rangers called up the #9 prospect to see how he handles third base. Should the 21 year slugger take well to the majors, the Rangers could look to deal Beltre, who is 36 years old, and is making $16 million this season and $18 million next season. There is a very real scenario where the Rangers decide to keep Beltre and play Gallo in the outfield.
The big issue keeping this dealing from happening (other than the Dolan’s) is Beltre’s remaining salary. Of course, the Indians could always have the Rangers eat some of his salary, but that in turn would require the Indians to give up more assets. The Indians could always trade for Beltre, assume his full salary for this season, which would be around $8 million for the rest of the year, then trade him to another team in the offseason, sparing ownership from his $18 million burden for 2016. The Rangers would most likely want to get a starting pitcher out of the deal, something the Indians just can’t do, as the Indians don’t have the organizational depth to deal away one. As good defensively as Lonnie Chisenhall has been this season, Beltre would offer an immediate upgrade both with the glove, and with his bat. Adding Beltre, would signal the end for Chisenhall, and he might even have to been thrown in the deal for Beltre.
Don’t the Indians already have a closer in Cody Allen? Yes, they do, but Cody Allen is much better suited in the set-up role. The Phillies have been trying for months to trade Papelbon, but have found no suitors for him or his $26 million combined salary (2015 and 2016). With that being said, Papelbon does have a vesting for next season, which kicks in if he finishes 55 games this season or 100 over the past two seasons. Right now he is sitting at 19 games finished for 2015, and 71 games finished over the past two seasons. If the Indians don’t want to pay Papelbon $13 million for the 2016 season, then he can only finish 28 more games until his option kicks in.
If they don’t care about payroll (I heard you guys laugh), it would really be a smart trade, but they do care, and I don’t see them using him as a set-up man. They could use a tandem of Papelbon and Allen to close games. Papelbon and Terry Francona worked well in Boston, so maybe he would be up for it. The Indians could probably get Papelbon on the cheap, unless they want the Phillies to pitch in on his salary, but trading away one of the many outfield prospects could get the job done. Adding Papelbon gives the bullpen a much needed extra and reliable arm.
Despite Oakland having the peripheral stats of an above .500 team, they sit in last place in the AL. With Billy Beane being known for his on the fly rebuild jobs, the time could be right to move Scott Kazmir, who is on the last year of his 2-year, $20 million deal. The Indians already know everything they need to about Kazmir, as he made an out of nowhere comeback in 2013, and helped the Tribe capture the AL Wild Card the same year. Kazmir is pitching well to start the year and sports a 2.93 ERA and averages 8.8 k’s per nine innings.
The Indians are in desperate need of a fifth starter, as the likes of Shaun Marcum, T.J. House, Zach McAllister, and the now retired Bruce Chen just couldn’t (and don’t) get the job done. Out of every player on this list, Kazmir might be the most likely. The Indians would only be on the hook for the final $6 million on his contact, but he would be a rental player (the Indians could sign him in the offseason). The Indians could once again be able to use their amazing outfield depth in the minor to swing this deal, but then again they did trade Joe Wendle for Brandon Moss, so who knows how this trade would work out.
— Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)
Photo via www.japantimes.co.jp