Cleveland Indians: Former Indian Drew Pomeranz Has Found Yet Another Home

Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; National League pitcher Drew Pomeranz (13) of the San Diego Padres throws a pitch in the fourth inning in the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; National League pitcher Drew Pomeranz (13) of the San Diego Padres throws a pitch in the fourth inning in the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Drew Pomeranz’s latest trade has an important message for the Cleveland Indians

It may seem like it has been ages, but the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies struck a deal over Ubaldo Jimenez almost five years ago. In exchange for the flame-throwing righty, the Rockies received a package of prospects headlined by Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz was, at the time, in the midst of his first season with the Tribe after being their first-round pick the year before. 

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The trade almost immediately came under scrutiny when Jimenez failed to show any of his former glory in the rest of the season. Although advanced metrics liked his work, he struggled to avoid big innings and posted a 5.10 earned run average in 11 starts. Somehow, the next season was even worse, with his earned run average again increasing and his velocity starting to wane. Jimenez did manage to turn things around in 2013 when he became a big part of the Indians’ playoff run, and he became a free agent at the season’s end.

As for the Rockies, the trade did not exactly become a big win for them either. Alex White pitched much worse than he did with the Indians, and they eventually parted ways with him after finding very little promise from the former first-round pick.

The other big part of the trade, Drew Pomeranz, had the same problems as Alex White. The lefty unsuccessfully adapted to Coors Field, and he too departed the team for greener pastures. He re-emerged with the Oakland Athletics in 2014, and the former top prospect seemingly had rediscovered his stuff. He posted a 2.35 earned run average through mixed work from the bullpen and the starting rotation, although advanced metrics felt that he was a bit worse than that lofty mark.

Last season saw him spend more time in the bullpen, making 46 relief appearances against nine starts. He continued to produce good results, and he became a prime trade target in the off-season. Sure enough, the San Diego Padres snatched him up and moved him to the starting rotation. The transition could not have gone better, with the 27-year-old making his first All-Star team.

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Now, he has found himself on yet another team. The Boston Red Sox have acquired the former member of the Cleveland Indians last night for pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. Espinoza has drawn great remarks, even making Baseball America’s prospect ranking at number 15. After many years of bouncing around, it appears that the shuttle service will never end.

At the end of the day, this transaction has a minimal effect on the Cleveland Indians. Fans playing the “what if” game could argue that they should have held onto the prospect since Jimenez gave the Indians very little return on their investment for the first few seasons. It is important to remember, however, that it took Pomeranz a while to figure things out in the major leagues, and there is a very real chance that he may never have reached his potential with the Indians. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to fix a problem.

The real impact of this trade is that Pomeranz is a 27-year-old stud on a cheap salary with another two and one-half years of team control. If he can fetch the Padres baseball’s 15th best prospect, imagine the haul Danny Salazar might bring the Indians. Salazar has a better fielding independent track record than Pomeranz, and he even has an extra two years of team control. Sure, he might be a bit more expensive, but the talent is undeniable.

Or what about Carlos Carrasco? He has had a great season so far, and he also comes with the added bonus of a cheap contract. When I estimated what he might earn in free agency this past December, I came up with a seven-year, $237 million megadeal if he entered the free agent market right then. Waiting until he would actually be a free agent would yield a five-year, $158 million contract. Either way, his four-year, $22 million extension with the Indians is looking like a bargain, and that does not even count the two team options tacked onto the end.

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For a quick recap, the Drew Pomeranz trade serves little more practical value than a reminder of a former Indian finding success elsewhere. Its greater impact on the pitching market, on the other hand, is a huge bonus for the Cleveland Indians. They will certainly retain their elite starting pitchers but just think of the potential return of which Drew Pomeranz just gave us a glimpse.