The Cleveland Guardians are showing some small signs of life on offense, but the starting rotation is really humming along.
The Guardians have gotten both Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale back from injuries, and they each looked fantastic in their returns over the weekend. Civale blanked the Twins for five innings last Friday night, while McKenzie stuck out ten Minnesota hitters in five shutout innings of his own on Sunday.
Pair that on top of the outstanding rookie campaigns of Logan Allen and Tanner Bibee and the Guardians suddenly sport one of the best rotations in the American League, if not all of baseball. Oh yeah, and Gavin Williams is just waiting for his chance, rocking a 2.43 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Columbus.
Which means now - after farting away another solid start in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Red Sox - is the perfect time to strike on a deal to trade current ace Shane Bieber.
Why the Cleveland Guardians Should Trade Shane Bieber This Year
I hesitate to say the Guardians don't "need" Bieber, because obviously they're better with him, and no team can ever have enough pitching.
But Cleveland's offense remains a major disappointment, and no matter what you think of Bo Naylor and Brayan Rocchio, they likely aren't going to be saviors. Nor do the Guardians have many guys in the minors who seem like franchise-altering stars from an offensive standpoint, at least none who will be ready anytime soon.
If the Guardians are going to transform this offense from a near-lifeless corpse to something resembling a major-league team, dealing Bieber almost becomes a necessity. While every team has access to his advanced stats - everyone knows his velocity continues to dip and everyone knows he's getting hit harder than ever - there is still a ton of value in the 2020 AL Cy Young winner being signed through next season. Enough to at least get a right fielder who can put the ball over the fence with some regularity, perhaps.
The other thing here is that there hasn't been much movement on a potential contract extension. It's impossible to say what's been said behind closed doors, but the indication is that Cleveland might deem that a lost cause, if you believe the whispers around the league.
The Guardians are now dealing with a glut of good young pitching. The writing is on the wall with Shane Bieber, but it's a best-case scenario for the team. The Guardians need a way to improve their team from outside the organization, and this is the way to do it.