Cleveland Guardians linked to plenty of potential trade candidates

Catcher Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Catcher Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
Willson Contreras, Cleveland Indians
Catcher Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Guardians are likely going to be active in the trade market once the lockout ends, and these players seem ripe to be dealt by their respective teams.

MLB Trade Rumors recently dropped a list of the fourteen likeliest trade candidates in baseball, and the thing that stood out about it to me is that, well, it makes a ton of sense.

Look, the Guardians would absolutely love to land a guy like Bryan Reynolds, Cedric Mullins, or Jesse Winker. But they will each rightfully carry a high price and no doubt be in high demand once the lockout is over. This isn’t to say these names on the MLBTR list are bargain-bin replacements; they are merely acceptable alternatives to those higher-valued names (at least for the Guardians).

After reading the entire list, and noting that the team at MLBTR links a few players to the Guardians, I’ve narrowed down a group of “back-up targets” to the aforementioned Reynolds, Mullins, and Winker.

Honorable Mention Trade Candidates for the Cleveland Guardians

Willson Contreras

The Guardians need another catcher – like desperately. However, I’m not convinced Contreras is the long-ish-term answer, especially with some of Cleveland’s catching prospects getting closer to the bigs. The crew at MLB Trade Rumors think there’s a fit with the club; however, with the dearth of catchers available, the Cubs will seek a king’s ransom.

Matt Olson

Let me dream! But in all seriousness, Olson is going to be a hot commodity with many teams inquiring about his services. Thus, the Guardians would be wise to not mortgage too many assets in pursuit of him.

Top 3 Guardians Trade Targets From the MLBTR List

3. Jeff McNeil

One word: versatility. McNeil can play all over. The Guardians will likely need some depth, and McNeil provides it at second base, left field, and right field. The 2022 season will mark McNeil’s age-30 season, though he does have three years of team control, which is something the Guardians will seek in any trade this offseason. Would James Karinchak straight-up be enough to land McNeil? The value is there according to Baseball Trade Values, and the Mets could always use more pitching.

2. Luke Voit

Voit would certainly qualm a lot of concerns at first base this season. As it stands now, Bobby Bradley should have the inside track at the job, as he played at about league average in 2021. Bradley hit 16 homers and drove in 41 RBI, but only hit .208 with 99 strikeouts in 74 games last season. Voit is days away from turning 31, but similarly offers three years of team control. He’s proven to be a steady bat with respectable power numbers, and would certainly lengthen the Guardians’ lineup. To obtain Voit, I’d be willing to offer New York a mid-level prospect or two (then I’d immediately seek the closest shower to wash off that greasy feeling).

1. Dominic Smith

Again, like his current teammate McNeil, Dominic Smith provides some versatility. The Guardians could stick him in left field or first base, and even DH him in a pinch. His skill set mirrors that of Josh Naylor, an added benefit should Naylor suffer any setbacks in his recovery. The icing on the cake is that Smith doesn’t turn 27 until June and is just entering his arbitration years, allowing him to remain with the club through at least the 2024 season. Using Baseball Trade Values, a mid-level prospect and Bradley Zimmer seem to get the job done.

In the end, I believe the team will make one significant trade ahead of the season and one lesser deal. The deals outlined above would fall in the latter. The goals will remain the same in any trade: bring in a young, controllable position player, though the key difference in any smaller deal would ideally be an emphasis on positional versatility.

That way, said player(s) could fill in through a plethora of ways, whether it be in the outfield, at second base, or at first. Look at a team like the Dodgers – they have three to four guys who, at any one time, can bounce around the diamond. It’s not the worst strategy to implement; fingers crossed the Guardians can get it done.