Cleveland Indians on track to be buyers or sellers at trade deadline?
The Major League Baseball trade deadline is rapidly approaching and while there’s still over a month and a half before the date, the Cleveland Indians will need to start planning which side of the deal they want to be on.
While the season has felt a bit underwhelming, Cleveland is still in contention and well within reach of the playoff picture. However, the direction of the franchise could push them to the other side of the deal. So when the time comes, will the Tribe be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?
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Looking back at the past few seasons, it’s hard to say which side they were on for the moves the club made. Sure, they traded away names like Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger, which usually paints the picture of being sellers. However, the names coming back to Cleveland haven’t exactly been awful.
The Bauer deal was able to net players like Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig, among others, who were both influential in the club’s success. Puig was more sudden while Reyes has spanned a longer time period. The same goes for the Clevinger deal that brought in Josh Naylor, Cal Quantrill and Owen Miller to name only half of the return.
With those deals, saying a team is a buyer or a seller isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem. The Tribe sent away two strong players, but the return was a benefit as well for the club. One side might seem better, but it doesn’t quite fit the brand of a true sell.
For the Cleveland Indians, both seasons that saw those moves were similar to this year. The Tribe were in the hunt, but a plethora at one position allowed the team to explore options at other positions of need. That, however, a plethora is far from what the team is dealing with this season.
Cleveland doesn’t have the starting pitching depth they’ve had the past few seasons, in fact if they do end up as buyers starting pitching might be at the top of the list. There’s other ways to play the market than what the team has done in the past, but a new approach will surely be needed. The point is, record and contention don’t always dictate the side of the deal.
Being 32-27, the Tribe are hovering right around the .500 mark, making the decision to buy or sell even more difficult. The club is right on the door step of being in the middle of the division and wild card races, but a bad week could push them well down the list and make for a steep climb. In other words, based on record they could end up on either side and it would make sense.
However, the most important aspect of trades is who’s involved. If you’ve kept up with some of our trade talk, whether it be players from opposing teams or just players to target in general, there isn’t a whole lot of top tier talent on the market this year. There isn’t going to be a name like Bauer or Clevinger out there. And even if there was, would Cleveland, the team with the lowest payroll in baseball, make that move? Probably not.
So, from the standpoint of buying, the slim pickings might be enough alone to deter the front office from that side of any deal. If they do bring in help, it might resemble the youthful side of a deal, like the return from the Bauer and Clevinger trades.
Moving to the other side of the trade, does Cleveland have pieces to sell and are there teams willing to buy? Most of the top talent has been moved in one trade or another over the last two seasons, leaving the Tribe with a young and cheap roster. There’s a few names that could draw interest, but will it be enough for Cleveland to actually pull the trigger?
In all honestly, this trade deadline has the potential to be very boring not only for the Cleveland Indians but all of baseball. There aren’t very many desirable names being tossed around in rumors and the Tribe might be in a position where they just stay put.
With such a young roster Cleveland could opt to ride out the current lineup and rotation, plus some help from the minors, and see how deep into the season they can contend. It would provide solid experience and could create chemistry for the club, but it might end up costing them a postseason berth if at least a small adjustment isn’t made.