3. Colton Cowser - OF, Baltimore Orioles.
The Guardians do not need more left handed hitters as the team has struggled in 2023 to hit versus left-handed pitching, but exceptions can be made for the right talent. Colton Cowser is that exception. The 6'2", 220lb left handed hitter could be a key piece of what Cleveland needs right now if Antonetti and company could get a deal done. Baltimore is in an extremely competitive division in the AL East, and that division is showing no signs of slowing down in being one of the most competitive pennant races in MLB history. Heavy competition will drive Baltimore to be buyers at the trade deadline this season.
Cowser is having a nice season so far at Triple-A Norfolk. In 37 games with the Tides, he's batting .331/.469/.554 but what is even more impressive so far in the young season are his platoon splits.
That's right, he's smashing left-handed pitching better than he is versus right-handed pitching. This would be a welcome addition in Cleveland if he could maintain these splits at the Major League level, or at least keep it close to what he's doing currently. His profile boasts the same as Jo Adell in terms of power to all fields, but with more refined plate discipline. His 2023 season has seen him strike out at 22.3% while also walking at an absurd 19.6% of the time, and featuring a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .415. A high BABIP may suggest that some of Cowser's early season success has been partly due to luck, but the reality is that he just makes hard contact and swings at good pitches to hit.
This can be supported by looking at his ISO (isolated power is a metric that looks solely at the number of times a player got an extra base hit, and yields a percentage that tells us out of all the hits a player has, what percentage of them were extra base hits) which is .223. Any player that hits for extra bases 20% or more of the time any time they get a hit is accomplishing an impressive feat, providing their team with the ability to get runners in, and get into scoring position -- not to mention the long ball threat.
This trade is pretty straight forward, the repeated Cleveland offering of Shane Bieber and Joey Cantillo in exchange for Austin Hays or Anthony Santander, Colton Cowser, and Heston Kjerstad. The inclusion of Hays or Santander would provide needed veteran presence if Cleveland does not believe they'd employ Cowser this season to full time Major League duties, or to avoid potential super two status (an extra year of arbitration) for Cowser. The Guardians do not develop power hitting outfielders historically, and Baltimore has stumbled on to a wealth of talent that if used correctly can help propel them to a pennant, and deep playoff runs over the next two seasons. This trade is the most mutually beneficial for both teams as it does not outright throw in the towel on playoff contention. The inclusion of Joey Cantillo is a sweetener, and makes sense for Cleveland to deal him while his value is high and a log jam in front of him is blocking his path.