Is it time for the Tribe to look at tradeable assets?
The Cleveland Indians currently sit 10 games out of first place, six games under .500. This is clearly not there the organization thought it would be when they were put on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Damn you SI and your jinx.
The Indians rotation has somewhat gotten itself together. Corey Kluber could still use some run support, and Trevor Bauer needs to issue fewer walks, but overall the top four in the rotation have pitched well. The fifth starter spot has been a revolving door, but that’s the case for a lot of teams.
The bullpen, on the other hand, has been atrocious. It’s become a shell of what it was last season as the Tribe continue to option guys back and forth and DFA ones who have exceeded the patience of the team. What was a strength last season has been anything but, and that’s still not their biggest issue.
The Tribe have a good handful of well-paid players, but a very small group of players playing well. Jason Kipnis has been spectacular this season, and Michael Brantley has been good, but not the same MVP candidate he was last year. David Murphy and Ryan Raburn off the bench have been consistent, although they’re really an extension of the starters.
So at this stage, are the Indians going to be buyers or sellers at the All-Star break?
With near a month of baseball left before the deadline, it could still swing. And things could definitely be worse. For a comparison, the Cubs are ten games back in the NL Central–and they’re six game OVER .500. The Indians have been lucky that the division hasn’t run away from them, but time could be running out on them to make a move.
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If they do indeed fall into the “seller” category, they may not have much to offer. With so many big contracts of aging players, they’d likely have to eat part of a deal for it to happen, and the Indians aren’t a team that can afford to do that. The best value that they may have to offer is pitching, but would they be willing to part with one of the “Four horseman of the K-pocalypse”?
Teams in contention will have starting pitching high on their list, and the Indians could have what contenders are looking for. There’s always the outside chance they could package Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn with one of them to free up payroll, but the return is going to be prospects–which could step the Indians back a few years from contention.
The move has been made this year to the “kids”. Francisco Lindor, Giovanny Urshela and Cody Anderson have made their debuts this season. Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall who were sent down to make way are still young players who could turn things around.
It’s hard to forecast who might come calling, and what they would offer. But I think it’s in the Indians best interest to consider any and all offers come July 31st.