Cleveland Guardians Rumors: Emmanuel Clase named as option for contender

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians
Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The rumors involving the best players on the Cleveland Guardians do not seem to stop, do they? From Shane Bieber to Josh Naylor, teams are lining up to make their play at one of Cleveland's few stars. The latest player mentioned as a potential target for a contending team is Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase. 

The Athletic's Jim Bowden appeared on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and stated his belief that the Los Angeles Dodgers are not done making additions to their roster following the signings of Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto and could look to strengthen the back end of the bullpen with Clase. 

Now, it should be mentioned that this is not a report by any means and more of a feeling of Bowden's that is making a connection between Los Angeles and Cleveland. That is not to say that a deal between the two sides for Clase will definitely not happen, just that there are no actual talks taking place right now. While Bowden does note that the Dodgers' farm system is a reason why a deal could be made with Cleveland, it is not always that easy.

First off, the Dodgers have been very stingy when it comes to trading top prospects, and that is what it would take to acquire the services of Clase. There is also the fact that several high-profile Cleveland baseball players who have been somewhat linked to Los Angeles with nothing coming of it, mostly due to their unwillingness to meet trade demands. Even though the two sides were able to come to agreements for a few mid to low-tier players this past season, the continued failure to meet eye-to-eye when it comes to big-name players remains an obstacle they seem to be incapable of clearing.

A compelling case can be made for the Guardians to trade Clase, and it is not entirely related to the return for his services. 2023 saw Clase go through some ups and downs in what was still a very impressive season. The 26 runs allowed in 75 games last season is slightly more than double of the two previous years combined (21 runs in 148 games).

Considering the risk-averse nature of the Guardians, in addition to the extreme volatility when it comes to relief arms, trading Clase now at the first sign of potential future trouble while still being one of the game's best closers is not the worst idea. Cleveland would be able to bring high-end talent into the organization that should align better with what is probably their next genuine competitive season in 2025.

There is the possibility that the Guardians hang on to Clase for 2024 with the hope of 2023 seeing new rules introduced combined with having relatively frequent catcher changes being something that can be put in the rearview mirror for next season. This is all before mentioning his extremely team-friendly deal. The Guardians having an elite player under contract in this manner is someone they should look to keep as long as they continue to be on the affordable end of the financial commitment spectrum.

Would it be surprising to see the Guardians trade Clase this offseason? Absolutely not. It would also not be a shock to see Clase in his familiar closer role in Cleveland this season. If a team is actually serious about trading for Clase and comes to the table with an offer reflecting that, then and only then would the Guardians have to make a decision. Until then, expect Clase to be a name mentioned on a regular basis for teams looking to improve their bullpen.