3 players Cleveland Indians can realistically acquire at trade deadline
3 players the Cleveland Indians could realistically acquire at the trade deadline
The Cleveland Indians are in the interesting position of being able to shop at the trade deadline regardless of their postseason hopes by the end of July.
With a “bottomed-out” payroll and very little money tied up beyond 2021, Cleveland will be looking to position itself for the future, aiming to trade for players the team can control for at least 2022 and beyond, if they’re lucky.
Because we try not to live in too much of a fantasy world in these parts (though it would be great to see Joey Gallo come to Cleveland), here are three players the Indians could realistically acquire at this year’s trade deadline.
Cleveland Indians Trade Target #1: 2B/OF Adam Frazier, Pittsburgh Pirates
Yes, he’s leading the National League in hits for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Adam Frazier is 29-years old and won’t be fitting into the team’s future contention plans, as the Pirates are far, far away from even thinking about that.
So Frazier is likely on the move this season, as he remains arbitration-eligible after 2021. He’s making $4.3 million this season and will likely command a nice raise, but we’re essentially talking about a guy who hits for average and has very little power at the plate. He’s a great asset to a team – and can play both the infield and outfield – but won’t be commanding a salary that puts him in the stratosphere.
He has a career 106 wRC+, just a shade above average. But he gets on base consistently, doesn’t strike out a ton, and can clear 30+ doubles any time he gets a full year of at-bats. A guy who puts the bat on the ball better than most, Frazier would be a perfect fit for the Indians.
Cleveland Indians Trade Target #2: P Merrill Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks
Merrill Kelly, 32, has had his ups and downs in the Majors, but he’d provide some much-needed stability in the back-end of the Cleveland rotation through next season, assuming the Indians would want to pick up his $5.25 million team option.
Kelly had his best season in the shortened 2020 campaign, posting a 2.59 ERA in 31.1 innings with a nifty 177 ERA+. While his other two seasons in the Majors are far closer to league average, Kelly knows how to eat up innings and can sustain a strong, stabilizing stretch. Since May 2, in 15 starts Kelly has a 3.90 ERA with 81 strikeouts and twenty walks. Teams are batting just .242/.285/.395 against him in those 90 innings of work.
The Diamondbacks are so far out of it there isn’t even a word for it; they need to rebuild everything from the ground up. Kelly is on the move and shouldn’t require too high a price. If anything, Cleveland should be able to get him if they’re willing to part with some lower-level prospects.
Cleveland Indians Trade Target #3: 1B/OF Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles
Trey Mancini might be the most “unrealistic” of the three, only because there might be a lot of suitors for the 29-year old Orioles first baseman/outfielder. With another year of arbitration on the horizon, currently making $4.75 million, Mancini will be under team control for another season.
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And after coming back from beating colon cancer, Mancini has proven he’s still the same dependable player, currently hitting .255/.330/.457 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI. He’s posting a 116 wRC+ in 2021, keeping his walk and strikeout percentages right in line with his career averages.
The real key here for the Indians is that Mancini has spent plenty of time in the outfield, making him an instant upgrade in what continues to be an annual area of need. But he can certainly split time at first base too, and we know how much Cleveland likes players with position versatility.
This is all contingent on how Cleveland feels about Eddie Rosario and potentially bringing him back in 2022 (with the season he’s having, it would certainly be doable). But the Indians will also have to think about Josh Naylor’s injury and when he could conceivably come back fully healthy, though he too can play first if needed. It certainly wouldn’t be the worst problem to finally have too many good outfielders.
I also can’t imagine fans would be upset to find both Rosario and Mancini in the outfield next season – and it could be done at an affordable rate. Mancini would likely cost some type of pitching prospect, but one has to imagine that’s partly why the Indians selected somewhere around three billion of them in this year’s draft.