Cleveland Indians: Evaluating potential trade partners (NL West)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 27: Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits his solo home run in the second inning against the San Francisco Giants during their MLB game at Oracle Park on September 27, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 27: Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits his solo home run in the second inning against the San Francisco Giants during their MLB game at Oracle Park on September 27, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images) /

As part of our league-wide exploration of the trade market for the Cleveland Indians, today we will discuss the National League West.

Welcome to the sixth and final installment in our discussion on how each team across MLB stacks up in potential trade negotiations with the Cleveland Indians. We’ve gone division by division, and today we will wrap things up with the NL West.

If you’ve read any of our previous talks on this subject, feel free to scroll down to the teams in question. If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick rundown of how we’re going about these examinations:

  • Indians have: starting pitching depth, improving farm system, Francisco Lindor
  • Indians need: corner outfield help, fourth infielder, left-handed bat

Once we gauge whether teams need what the Indians have to offer, and/or whether they might be willing to meet the asking price, they are subsequently broken down into one of six tiers:

  • The No Chance Tier – the teams in this tier don’t match up well at all with Cleveland in a trade for one reason or another
  • The Long Shot Tier – teams that will most likely not trade with the Indians this offseason despite players on one side or the other that make sense
  • The “We Don’t Have to Worry About it Until the World Series” Tier – National League contenders
  • The Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Tier – teams in this tier are likely to aggressively pursue the Indians’ best players, but may lack in willingness or ability to meet the asking price
  • The Low-Profile Tier – teams with which the Indians could complete a trade that flies under the radar, but probably not one involving any marquee names
  • The Blockbuster Tier – teams that will edge out those in the Horseshoes and Hand Grenades tier due to a deep well of talent to pull from in order to send an appropriate return to Cleveland

Any hypothetical trade discussed must include at least one established MLB player. Deals involving only prospects, money, and so on are not being taken into account in these discussions. Now, let’s take a trip out west.

San Francisco Giants: Long Shot Tier

With the possible exception of lefty reliever Tony Watson, the Giants don’t have a single MLB player under contract going into 2020 that the Indians should realistically be targeting in a trade. Watson ended the 2019 season on the 60-day IL with a fractured throwing wrist, and at 34 years old, his best days might be behind him.

The Giants have one of the oldest collections of players in the league, and with Bruce Bochy having ridden off into the sunset, they’re likely to try to ship off some of their veteran talent for prospects this winter.

I won’t rule out the possibility that the Indians take a relatively low-risk flier on a proven veteran bullpen arm set to make $2.5 million next season via a player option.

San Diego Padres: Low-Profile Tier

I could go a number of ways on the Padres. Last winter, they set in motion a plan to take over the NL West, and they should be even more active in phase two this year. Could someone like Wil Myers be on the move?

It’s worth pointing out that the Padres could soon be looking to clear a path for Taylor Trammell, the outfield prospect they acquired from the Reds at the 2019 deadline in that memorable three-team deal involving Cleveland.

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Sending Myers elsewhere along with the $60 million he’s guaranteed over the next three years would not only open the door for Trammell, but would also free up some cash to use in free agency. San Diego might have to take on some of Myers’ remaining salary and/or include a prospect to make it worth any trade partner’s while, but it’s likely that the Padres at least explore this possibility in the coming months.

Even if the Padres eat some money, it’s tough to envision the Indians being in on an average right-handed bat making $20 million a year. It also wouldn’t make a ton of sense for Hunter Renfroe to be in the equation after the Indians already acquired similarly strikeout-prone right-handed outfielder Franmil Reyes from the Padres.

I can see the Padres asking on Cleveland’s starting pitchers, but I’m not finding anything other than a deep San Diego farm system as far as a return for the Tribe.

Colorado Rockies: Long Shot Tier

The Rockies are among MLB’s most pitching-needy teams. Like the Padres, the players who would command the most value in a trade are guys they likely intend to keep.

Colorado is a payroll-shedding candidate, but the odds of finding a taker for Ian Desmond’s contract are scarce. The same goes for Daniel Murphy, who surprisingly had the worst offensive season of his career despite playing his home games in the friendly confines of Coors Field.

Neither player fills a need for the Tribe, making their price tags irrelevant anyway. If there’s a way to connect the Rockies and Indians in a trade involving established MLB talent, I’m not seeing it.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Low-Profile Tier

The Diamondbacks are a tough team to get a read on. They went 85-77 in 2019, good for a second-place finish in the NL West. They’ll again figure to be solid offensively with guys like Eduardo Escobar, Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, and a full season of David Peralta still on their roster heading into 2020.

Their pitching staff, however, is composed of just enough question marks to wonder if they can repeat or exceed 85 wins next time around. What’s even more telling is that Arizona traded Zack Greinke at the 2019 deadline, which indicates even they didn’t picture themselves as a well-above-.500 team.

It’s tough to imagine the Diamondbacks performing a 180 and going for it just six months removed from parting with Greinke, in turn making it difficult to foresee them being in on any of the Tribe’s starting pitchers.

They’re currently hovering in a dangerous place: not totally tearing it down, but not quite equipped to go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers in the NL West. I’m leaning toward a more passive approach out of Arizona this offseason as they wait to see how the first half of 2020 unfolds before fully committing to one direction or the other.

As such, I can’t see any significant trade going down between the DIamondbacks and the Tribe.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Blockbuster Tier

We saved the most interesting team in the division for last, as the rumor mill couldn’t even wait until after the World Series to start churning out Francisco Lindor’s name in trade speculation.

Jon Morosi reported earlier in the week that the Dodgers are expected to be heavily in the mix for Lindor this offseason as the Indians struggle with how to navigate the shortstop’s future. We’ll have to wait and see whether this gains any momentum in the coming weeks and months, but the Dodgers are one of the few teams in the league that actually have the ammunition to pry Lindor away from the Indians.

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  • Corey Seager would naturally be part of any deal involving Lindor and the Dodgers, with the question then becoming: What complementary pieces would the Indians get? Seager is set to become a free agent at the same time as Lindor, so there will have to be some additional players or prospects piled on top since the Dodgers can actually afford to extend the latter.

    Cleveland has to at least ask about Gavin Lux if these negotiations come to pass, and the Indians have the right to make him a deal-breaker if L.A. won’t put the young second baseman on the table. As a matter of fact, Lux should arguably be the focal point of the discussion.

    The Dodgers also possess a deep farm system that includes catching prospect Keibert Ruiz. With Will Smith having established himself as a reliable option at the position in 2019, the Dodgers could view Ruiz as expendable in a trade for the likes of Lindor.

    The Indians and Dodgers were linked in endless trade speculation last winter with the names of Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber mentioned frequently, but whatever negotiations they may have had ended in a stalemate. The Dodgers are disciplined almost to a fault in trade talks, and they’re known for walking away from the table if they believe the asking price is too high. That’s part of the reason they have such a deep talent pool to work with in the first place.

    For a player like Lindor, there aren’t many prices that could be categorized as unreasonable. It will be fascinating, and potentially devastating, to see if these rumors materialize into something bigger as the winter progresses.

    Next. Indians round out coaching staff. dark

    That does it for our tour of MLB’s six divisions. With baseball’s offseason now officially upon us, we will have much more to talk about in the coming months.