I know I've advocated for trading Shane Bieber in the past - and vehemently so - but in this current landscape, I was perhaps a bit too hasty.
Sure, the emergence of Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen, and now Gavin Williams gives the Cleveland Guardians' rotation a bright future, but beyond that, things look dicey in the short-term, at least if we're talking about trading Bieber.
Cal Quantrill clearly isn't long for Cleveland's rotation, and at this point, it's impossible to assume anything about Triston McKenzie's health moving forward; it seems like the team will just be happy to get anything out of him.
Right now, the Guardians continue to flirt with .500 and will be locked in a struggle with the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central crown. It's a battle of mediocrity, and the Guardians certainly stand to be improved in the event of a Bieber trade at this deadline, but would it be enough to actually move the needle this year and beyond?
What Kind of Value Does Shane Bieber Bring Back in a Trade?
No doubt there are teams that would absolutely love to have Bieber in their rotation. Contending teams like the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cincinnati Reds could certainly use some pitching depth for the stretch run, and any team acquiring Bieber would get him for 2024 as well.
That being said, the 28-year-old Bieber is arguably having - at least statistically - his worst season in the majors. Though he sports a 3.48 ERA, his xERA of 4.69 suggests it could be worse. Which makes sense considering Bieber is getting hit harder than ever, striking out the fewest batters of his career, and throwing a four-seamer that barely cracks 91 miles per hour.
So what exactly would that net the Guardians in a trade, and would it offset the issue of losing pitching depth in a season where the organization has to manage the innings of three rookie starters?
Honestly, it wouldn't bring the franchise-altering return people are hoping for. Sure, Cleveland might find themselves a decent right fielder, but it's hard to see a team trading high-end minor-league talent that's anywhere close to the majors. In other words, the Orioles likely aren't giving up a guy like Colton Cowser in this scenario.
Bieber still eats up a ton of innings and remains a reliable arm at the front end of the rotation. I'd rather him stay healthy, throwing 91 miles per hour and managing an ERA under four than seeing him blow out his shoulder again. He's a valuable, vital piece of the puzzle for the Guardians this year - and honestly next - and one wonders if the team still couldn't sign him before the start of next season, when the team likes to dole out its contract extensions.
The Cleveland Guardians are a frustrating team to watch this year, but they're still in the playoff mix. Don't expect a massive deal at the trade deadline, and don't expect Bieber to be going anywhere - at least not in 2023.