Cleveland Indians Trade Deadline Targets are Numerous
With the MLB trade deadline right around the corner, the Indians appear to be in the driver’s seat as a buyer. With a 7 and a half game lead over the Twins coming out of the All-Star break the Indians can afford to let the market come to them. As it currently stands, the market is shaping up to be a buyer’s market, with a large number of teams appearing to be sellers coming out of the break. This deadline could turn into an impactful one for the Indians, as their biggest weakness (the bullpen) is going to be a common commodity. The Indians very well could add impact players, while keeping the farm system intact. Here are some players we could very well see in Cleveland very soon.
Big Name Relievers
Zach Britton: Think the Indians are done boosting their bullpen following the acquisition of Brad Hand from the Padres? I’d bet against that. Britton is most certainly on the trade block, and someone the Tribe could potentially target. Given Britton’s injury history it is quite hard gauge his value at this point. Despite pitching better as of late, it is impossible for a team to know what they’re getting out of Britton. Is he capable of being that guy from 2014-2016? Is he capable of pitching late into October? Can he pitch multiple innings? Considering the amount of buzz Britton is generating and the upside he possesses, the package might too high for the Indians liking. Britton could be a perfect example for the Indians of letting the market come to them, and not jumping at a go like Britton unless the price is right for them.
Raisel Iglesias: The Cincinnati Reds are not moving Iglesias unless they get a big haul. Iglesias is on a team friendly deal and doesn’t reach the free agent market until after the 2021 season. At first glance Iglesias is having a great season, 42 innings with an ERA of 2.36 and 9.86 strikeouts per nine innings. However, taking a look deeper into his stats, the cost may outweigh the benefits for the Indians. Iglesias carries a 3.88 FIP, and his BABIP is extremely low at .235. Added on top of this, his Homerun rate has nearly doubled with in the past year. Considering the high asking price of the Reds, and the potential regression to come this year for Iglesias, a trade seems very unlikely.
Jeurys Familia: Besides Brad Hand, I believe Familia is the second-best pitcher that can reasonably be had. The Met’s closer has posted very good numbers for a not so good Mets team, and processes lights out stuff. Familia coming into a game in the 7th inning would create a bullpen that could compare to the 2014-2015 Royals. Familia has posted a 2.88 ERA to go along with an even better FIP of 2.53. The righty is really going well when he’s getting ground ball. Although his strikeouts per nine is good at 9.52, his ground ball percentage at 50.5% is really what makes him effective.
Kelvin Herrera: In the unlikely scenario that the Nationals decide to move any pieces, Herrera would be a likely choice to go. The Royals got three middle of the pack prospects for Herrera, and if the Nationals trade Herrera, the package would be slightly less given that Herrera would have less team control. However, like Iglesias Herrera is pitching much better than his peripherals. Herrera has an outstanding 1.98 ERA but has a less impressive 3.91 FIP. His strikeout numbers are also very concerning as he only averages 7.93 strikeouts per nine innings.
Relief pitcher Class B
Ryne Stanek: Stanek is an unlikely name to be moved this upcoming trade deadline, but with the Tampa Bay Rays; nothing is off the table. Acquiring Stanek would cost a significant haul, especially considering he has 5 years of control after this year. Stanek can pitch in just about any situation, which is evident that Stanek has mostly been the go-to guy to start during the Rays bullpen games. Despite the flexibility to pitch in any situation, that’s not the only reason Stanek is valuable. He can flat out pitch. Stanek has a 2.08 ERA with an equally impressive 2.65 FIP. This is to go along with his 11.42 strikeouts per nine and his 82.8 stranded runner percentage. 82.8 may be a concerning unsustainable number for most but not for Stanek, as he has shown the ability to bear down with runners on base all through his minor league career as well.
Brad Brach: Brach is a solid reliever who won’t cost much prospect wise that the Indians should be looking at. On the surface Brach’s 4.46 ERA is not looking too good for a back of the bullpen type reliever. However, it appears Brach has had a significant amount of bad like this season. With a BABIP of .372, there is little doubt that the second half can be quite productive for Brach. Brach could also benefit from pitching in front of the Indians defense, as opposed to the Orioles, who currently boast one of the league’s worst defenses. Brach has also compiled a solid yet unspectacular 9.41 strikeouts per nine. Although his 4.46 walks per nine is a bit concerning, Brach would be a low prospect cost move that could upgrade the Indians’ bullpen.
Mychal Givens: Givens is another Orioles pitcher with better peripherals than performance so far. He has a 4.28 ERA but his FIP is actually quite good at 2.75. Like Brach, Givens would benefit from pitching in front of a better defense. His BABIP isn’t as high as Brach’s but is still very high at .341. Givens has been an almost identical pitcher as Brach, and both could potentially be moved to Cleveland together in one trade. His 4.28 walks per nine is a concern but he boasts a pretty good 10.24 strikeouts per nine. Givens alone deepens the Indian’s bullpen, but both Brach and Given together could help remake the front end of it.
Fernando Rodney: Rodney has been one of the more inconsistent pitchers from year to year, but lucky for potential buyers, Rodney has been good this year. The 39-year-old has complied 10.13 strikeouts per nine to go along with his lowest walks per nine since 2012 at 3.12. Rodney has a good ERA and FIP at 3.12 and 3.61. However, the long ball has been a major concern for Rodney. He has averaged 1.04 home run per nine. This is with a decrease in his groundball percentage. Most of Rodney’s career he has boasted a ground ball percentage over 50% but this year he is down to 44.2, his lowest since 2008.
Jake Diekman: Diekman may be one of the most interesting pitchers on the trade market this year. Diekman is a power lefty who strikeouts 10.96 batters per nine innings while sporting a 3.21 ERA and a similar FIP at 3.26. However, control issues have haunted Diekman for most of his career which is evident by his career 4.88 walks per nine and his 5.08 walks per nine this season. The southpaw also has reverse splits which is interesting considering his power fastball, and hard slider. Lefties are hitting .300/.451/.400 while righties are hitting a mere .186/.263/.286. If used primarily against righties Diekman could be a great weapon in the Tribe’s bullpen.
Tyler Clippard: Clippard could end up being the perfect get for Indians, rarely talked about Clippard has been reliable throughout his whole career, and this year is no different. Nothing Clippard has done this year has been spectacular but his numbers are just all around solid and consistent. The Toronto Blue Jay has posted 3.15 ERA with a 3.89 FIP, to go along with a good 10.64 strikeouts per nine and only 3.15 walks per nine. Clippard is the perfect type of pitcher to help lengthen the Indian’s bullpen with quality innings.
Seung-Hwan Oh: Oh has shown that he is not the pitcher from 2015 or 2016 but he is somewhere in between. Oh is a strike thrower who’s only real problem is the home run ball. The right has given up 1.01 homer per nine innings, despite only allowing 2.01 walks per nine. Oh is a fly ball given that his groundball rate is only 31%. Oh also strikes out 10.68 batters per nine to go along with a 2.82 ERA and 3.10 FIP.
Joakim Soria: Soria could be one of the most under-rated relief pitchers in baseball this year and the Indians should absolutely pursue him. Soria’s all-around stats are amazing. He boasts a solid ERA of 2.75 but actually may be pitching better than that as evident by his 2.20 FIP. His strikeout to walk ratio is quite impressive as he strikes out 11.25 batters per nine while only walking 2.25 batter per nine. On top of that Soria does not give up the long ball. Averaging 0.50 homers per nine innings despite being a fly ball pitcher. 5% of his fly balls end up as homers which is only slightly below his career average of 8.5%
Craig Stammen: Stammen has turned himself into a force to be reckoned with in the Padres bullpen. Stammen is an arm who might require a good prospect haul but it may be worth it, especially considering he is under contract next year as well. Stammen has put up a 2.91 ERA with an insanely good FIP of 1.94. Stammen is a great groundball pitcher who can also strike guys out. He has a 51.2% groundball rate to go along with 9.91 strikeouts per nine. The most impressive thing Stammen has been able to do is stop hitters from doing what they’re trying to do; hit homers and draw walks. Stammen has an incredible 1.75 walks per nine to go along with an unbelievable 0.19 home runs per nine.
Kirby Yates: The Padres have done quite well as picking up relievers such as Brad Hand and Craig Stammen, but you can add Yates to that list. Yates has been the best out of all of them this season. Yates has an extremely low 1.43 ERA to go along with a 2.06 FIP. Yates has done everything right this year and has two more years of control after this year. He has a great 11.47 strikeouts per nine to go along with a walk rate of 2.63, and a groundball percentage of 50%. Although it’s unlikely the Indians could turn their bullpen into one of, if not the best bullpen in baseball with one blockbuster trade with the Padres to grab their three top relievers (Hand, Stammen, Yates), none of the pitchers are rentals and any of three could help fill the void of Cody Allen after the season.
Bryce Harper: Although this quite the long shot, there’s at least a chance that the Nationals could be forced to pivot and become sellers at the trade deadline. Washington sits at 48-48 coming out of the break, 5.5 games out of first place in the NL East. They are behind two young surging teams in the Division (Phillies and Braves) who are bound to make some type of move this trading deadline. Also, the performances of rookie Juan Soto and Michael Taylor make this an easier pill to swallow. Perhaps the Nats take a 50/50 approach to the deadline where they deal Harper and acquire someone with more control; perhaps J.T. Realmuto? Could you imagine an outfield of Juan Soto, Michael Taylor and Adam Eaton with Victor Robles still on the team and J.T. Realmuto behind the plate? Despite how unlikely this situation is, the next couple weeks are going to be big for the Nationals, and trading Harper may look more and more like a possibility, if the Nationals go on a significant losing streak coming out of the All-Star break.
Adam Jones: Jones is not the player he used to be and doesn’t appear to be that big of an upgrade at all. Jones no longer has any skills that are above average. His splits against lefties don’t make for any optimism either. Although his average is higher than against righties (.296 compared to .267) his power is not there against lefties. Jones has only 1 home run against lefties in 111 plate appearances. Jones also doesn’t walk. His walk percentage is an ugly 2.8%. Jones provides no tangible upgrade for the outfield.
Starling Marte: Marte can be under club control through 2021 but the presence of Austin Meadows could make him expendable. Like Jones, Marte doesn’t walk a lot. Marte has a low walk percentage of only 6.6. However, unlike Jones, Marte has elite speed and can cover center field, while also being an upgrade offensively. Marte carries a batting line of .280/.333/.480 to go along with 13 homers and 25 stolen bases.
Corey Dickerson: Dickerson has turned into quite the quality player the past three years. Like the other two outfielders listed above, Dickerson is not a huge walker, only taking his base 4.1% of the time. However, Dickerson has the ability to put the ball in play against both lefties and righties. In fact, his .313 average against lefties is higher than his average against righties (.303). Dickerson may not be a big-name outfielder, but he would give the tribe good at-bats and extend the lineup even further.
Brian Dozier: In the event that the Indians acquire Dozier, Jason Kipnis would begin to see time in the outfield. Dozier, a divisional rival has been one of the better second basemen over the course of the past few years. Unfortunately for the Twins, the second base market never has a lot of demand, and lucky for the Indians, they can take advantage of this market and extend their lineup to even greater heights. Dozier does not have the prettiest batting average of .230, but he walks 10.4% of the time, while homering 16 times in the first half of the season. Adding Dozier to the lineup will extend the Indians lineup and make the offense more dangerous.
Whit Merrifield: Merrifield is an interesting trade candidate given his 4 years of club control beyond the season. An in-division trade with a player with such control might be difficult to imagine but its possibly to see the two clubs coming to an agreement. Merrifield is a versatile player that can play all over the diamond, despite his best defensive position being second base. The current Royal has a stellar batting line of .307/.378/.434. He also strikeouts out at a below league average rate, only striking out 16.6% of the time.
Eduardo Escobar: Like Merrifield, Escobar is also a very versatile infielder. Unlike Merrifield however, Escobar will be hitting the free agent market after this year. That does not take away the value that Escobar brings on the field. Not only can he play every infield position, but he is no slouch with the bat. His slugging percentage is up at .507 and he carries a wRC+ of 120. Escobar can provide good power and versatility to the Indians lineup, as well as allowing for starters to take breaks in the field.
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allen, via Flickr.