Zach Plesac Is the Most Likely Trade Candidate
At least one of Zach Plesac or Aaron Civale are almost sure to be dealt this offseason. The Guardians have several starting pitchers who have shot up through their minor-league system and are ready to contribute. While depth is always needed throughout the season, the Guardians have an embarrassment of riches. We will look further at some of these options in an upcoming prospect analysis, but we can safely expect Cleveland’s top prospect Daniel Espino to debut in 2023, as well as unheralded prospect Tanner Bibee, who is currently rated as Cleveland’s sixth-best prospect, and lefty Logan Allen, who struggled upon reaching Triple-A in 2022.
This is in addition to bigger roles for Konnor Pilkington and others who came up for Cleveland in 2022. The sheer amount of high-end pitching talent that the Guardians boast makes mid-rotation starters such as Plesac and Civale, with escalating salaries, expendable.
Both Plesac and Civale would be attractive trade pieces to any number of contenders who are looking to fill a mid-to-backend rotation spot without breaking the bank. A team like the Mets for example, who have proven to be good trade partners with Cleveland in recent years and are looking to rebuild a majority of their rotation on the fly while remaining competitive and saving money to pay their own big free agents. The Mets have exactly the type of prospects the Guardians have been able to get the most out of – imperfect prospects, close to major-league ready, but without a clear path to the big leagues with their current teams. A deal centered around shortstop Ronny Mauricio would seem to be a great fit for both teams.
Of the two, Plesac seems more likely to be dealt, although I wouldn’t put it past Cleveland to trade both while they have value, and before their price tag escalates through arbitration. Plesac seems to have worn out his welcome due to antics that rubbed teammates the wrong way during the 2020 season, and that was before he missed time in 2021 and 2022 with separate injuries stemming from temper tantrums. Civale, meanwhile, worked his way back from multiple injuries to contribute down the stretch and make the ALDS roster. Both would likely have more value to other organizations looking to shore up a rotation than as additional depth pieces in Cleveland.