Who is the most likely trade candidate for the Cleveland Guardians?

Cleveland Guardians Photo Day
Cleveland Guardians Photo Day / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

By now, it is clear that the Cleveland Guardians are one of the better teams in baseball. With a 33-17 record, Cleveland is in first place in the American League Central division and trail the New York Yankees by just half of a game for the best record in the AL.Thisis a team that is going to be looking to improve their roster for a playoff run rather than tear it down and reset for next year and beyond.In order for that to happen, the Guardians will have to trade something of value away, and Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter believes he has identified who the most likely trade candidate is.

Appearing in Reuter's The Most Likely Player to Be Traded for Every MLB Team in 2024, it is outfield prospect George Valera appearing in the Guardians' entry, and it is hard to argue with his reasoning for being Cleveland's top trade candidate. 

"Once viewed as a potential long-term fixture in the middle of the Guardians lineup, outfielder George Valera now looks like a prime candidate for a change of scenery as he has yet to break through at the MLB level."

Joel Reuter on George Valera

Retuer would also note how Valera struggled with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers last season, slashing just .211/.343/.375 in 73 games. This is not the level of production expected from what was once believed to be an impact bat in the lineup for Cleveland. These struggles have carried over into this season, as Valera has a .179/.303/.357 slash line with four doubles and two home runs in 15 games this season. The power output from Valera is very encouraging and something that would be a nice change of pace from Cleveland's current outfield group at the major league level, but striking out 20 times in 66 at-bats is far from ideal. 

The Guardians recently called up outfielder Johnathan Rodriguez after deeming that Ramon Laureano's time on the major league roster must come to an end. It is not entirely out of the realm of possibilities for Valera to also get that chance. However, their outfield group is pretty fullat the moment, and that was before Rodriguez received the call. With Steven Kwan, Tyler Freeman, Will Brennan, and Estevan Florial seeing most of the time in the outfield, with the occasional appearance from David Fry, there really is no playing time with the big league club to spare. 

The only way playing time would be createdis if the Guardians make a long overdue move of parting ways with Florial and decide to employ some sort of timeshare for the non-Kwan-occupied spots, with neither really appearing imminent at this time. Perhaps the best move for all parties involved here is to find a new home for Valera and improve the major league team in the process. Maybe the Guardians can bolster their starting rotation by acquiring an arm of value on a team that is far from being competitive and can allow Valera to see everyday at-bats in the majors that are simply not going to come in Cleveland. There is still plenty of time to make any sort of decision here, but this is one thatmust be considered before the trade deadline.