With Shane Bieber landing on the IL, there might not be much help coming for the Cleveland Guardians - fresh off a sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers - at the trade deadline.
It was pretty murky whether the Guardians were willing to trade Bieber at all, and it's not like his trade value was through the roof, despite plenty of interest from other teams.
But with Bieber landing on the 15-day IL with right elbow inflammation, that obviously seals any chance he'd be dealt. And unless the Guardians are willing to deal a significant crop of their younger prospects, it's doubtful the team is going to improve the major-league roster all that much heading into the stretch run of the season.
As things stand now, the Guardians are 2.5 games back of the Twins in the AL Central, sitting 45-48 heading into a series with the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates, who could very well be sellers themselves at the trade deadline.
The division is still very much in play for Cleveland, but without Bieber as a trade chip, and a typical unwillingness to deal too many prospects, the Guardians don't have much wiggle room to pick up, say, a guy like Paul Goldschmidt, who would be a difference-maker in the atrocious AL Central.
Help Could Still Come From Columbus
That being said, what would bringing up the likes of Oscar Gonzalez, James Karinchak, and Brayan Rocchio do for the Guardians?
Gonzalez has been red-hot as of late, and is now batting .276/.312/.487 with ten home runs, 49 RBI, and 15 doubles with the Clippers. After being sent down to Columbus in early June, Karinchak has given up two runs in nine innings, with a whopping 18 strikeouts. And Rocchio continues to do Brayan Rocchio things, chugging along with a .294/.384/.418 line with 23 doubles, 43 RBI, and 17 stolen bases.
It's hard to say that calling up all three would be enough to tip the division's scales back to Cleveland, but wouldn't you rather like to see a lineup that features Gonzalez and Rocchio every day instead of guys like Myles Straw, David Fry, and Gabriel Arias?
In the end, the Guardians might just be fighting to stay .500 the rest of the way, and 2023 will be looked at more of a transitional year, as Cleveland gets a better sense of the needs surrounding its still-young roster. With the way things are going, the team might just have to start looking more towards 2024.