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Possible trade options that can help the Indians rotation

Possible trade options that can help the Indians rotation
November 4, 2013
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In part one, I discussed possible free agent targets the Indians may look to add in order to help their rotation in the event that Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir find themselves a new home this winter.  Today, in part two, I divulge into potential trade targets.  This is always a tricky undertaking, as it's hard to know which players will be made available by their teams, especially this early in the offseason.

Also, in case you missed them, last week I did a review of the Indians possible free agent and trade options for the lineup.

Big Names

David Price –  Tampa Bay Rays
2013: 10-8, 3.33 ERA, 182.2 IP, 27 BB, 151 SO

This idea is much like the thought of a trade for Giancarlo Stanton: it is probably wishful thinking; however, Price may actually be more far-fetched an idea than Stanton.  The reasoning behind that is because Miami is a rebuilding team looking to stockpile young, up-and-coming prospects, whereas the Rays are a playoff-World Series contending team looking for more Major League ready pieces.  Danny Salazar is the only real top notch prospect in the Indians system that is ready to impact a Major League squad.  While Cleveland certainly has intriguing prospects in the lower levels of the minors and Double-A, that's probably not what Tampa is looking for in return for their ace and 2012 Cy Youngwinner.  I foreshadowed this a bit in my offensive trade targets piece - I see a team like the Cardinals being a  more realistic fit for Price.  St. Louis can offer pieces like Matt AdamsCarlos MartinezShelby MillerJoe KellyTrevor RosenthalOscar TaverasKolten Wong, and so on.  Those are players ready to impact a Rays team right now.  That's not something the Indians can offer.

Jake Peavy –  Boston Red Sox
2013: 12-5, 4.17 ERA, 144.2 IP, 36 BB, 121 SO

Peavy is owed $14.5 million in 2014 and even though the Red Sox just acquired him at the trade deadline this past July, they may look to send him away themselves for a couple of prospects.  Boston will have Jon LesterJohn LackeyRyan Dempster (although he could be a trade option himself), Clay Buckholz, and Felix Doubront as part of their 2014 rotation.  They also have top prospects Brandon WorkmanHenry OwensMatt BarnesAnthony Ranaudo, and Allen Webster awaiting their turn for a shot at the rotation.  Boston also seemed to try to work around having to pitch Peavy too often in the playoffs, meaning they may not be so high on him anymore.  There could be several trade rumors surrounding Boston pitchers this offseason, including Peavy.

Jeff Samardzija –  Chicago Cubs
2013: 8-13, 4.34 ERA, 213.3 IP, 78 BB, 214 SO

There has been lots of talk throughout the year about Chicago looking to lock up Samardzija long term, but so far, not much progress has been made.  A few rumors swirled around this summer about the Cubs possibly being open to dealing Samardzija, and if an extension does not get done soon, you may hear even more rumors.  He's still only 28 and is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.  While Chicago seems to be very high on his power arm, if they begin to feel like they won't be able to extend him, they may look to deal him for a couple of well-regarded prospects.

Yovani Gallardo –  Milwaukee Brewers
2013: 12-10, 4.18 ERA, 180.2 IP, 66 BB, 144 SO

Gallardo's name popped up in trade rumors this summer, and the Indians were one of the teams linked to him.  He's coming off of the worst statistical year of his career, which may have dropped his price tag in the trade market a bit.  He saw a decrease in his fastball velocity and it resulted in his first season since 2008 with less than 200 strikeouts.  Still, with a premium on pitching in today's baseball, and Gallardo's past track record of success, it would take quite the haul to pry him away from Milwaukee.  He is owed $11.25 million in 2014 and has a $13 million team option for 2015.  

Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays
2013: 12-10, 5.17 ERA, 174.0 IP, 50 BB, 135 SO

Hellickson is a guy that I really hope the Indians check in on.  He had a terrible season in 2013, and the Rays may feel they have the starting rotation options to replace him (even if they trade Price, they will most likely get at least one Major League ready pitcher in return).  That could make him available this winter.  Hellickson will be arbitration eligible this offseason and he will not be a free agent until 2017.  His low cost and history of being a very good starting pitcher before 2013 makes me think that the Rays will most likely want to hang on to him and see if he can rebound.  I hope I'm wrong though, as Hellickson has the potential to be a front of the rotation starter – as he showed in 2011 and 2012 – but would likely not cost as much as other top starters may cost in the trade market this winter.  If the Rays make him available this offseason, I'm hoping Antonetti can put together a package that interests Tampa.

Middle Tier

Lance Lynn –  St. Louis Cardinals
2013: 15-10, 3.97 ERA, 201.2 IP, 76 BB, 198 SO

Lynn has proved to be a reliable middle of the rotation starter for the St. Louis Cardinals. An All-Star in 2012, Lynn has finished in the top ten in wins in the National League in each of his two seasons as a part of the Cardinals rotation.  He is under team control until after the 2017 season and is not arbitration eligible until after next season.  So in terms of cost, he would be a perfect fit in Cleveland.  St. Louis has a ton of pitching prospects and could probably afford to deal Lynn, but that doesn't mean they'll just give him away.  It would still require a nice package to get him, but the fact that he has four more years of team control may make it worthwhile.  Another young Cardinals pitcher, Joe Kelly, may interest the Indians as well.

Mark Buehrle –  Toronto Blue Jays
2013: 12-10, 4.15 ERA, 203.2 IP, 51 BB, 139 SO

Buerhle is the model of consistency, and the Indians are certainly familiar with him.  He became a full time starter with the White Sox in 2001, and in every single year between 2001-2013, he has surpassed the 200 inning mark.  That's unheard of in baseball today.  Prior to 2012, Buerhle had spent his entire career in the AL Central.  That is something that could be appealing to the Indians.  He is no longer a staff ace, but there is always room in a contending team's rotation for a guy that will give you 200+ innings and an ERA around 4.00.  The one big issue with Buerhle is his contract.  He is owed $18 million in 2014 and $19 million in 2015.  That's absolute ace money; something the Indians cannot afford.  If the Blue Jays were willing to eat a nice sized chunk of his contract, he may be a good fit in the Indians' rotation.  If they're not, then there's no way he's coming to Cleveland.

Tommy Milone –  Oakland Athletics
2013: 12-9, 4.14 ERA, 156.1 IP, 39 BB, 126 SO

Milone is a finesse lefty who has an ability to pound the strike zone.  Coming into the 2013 season, Milone looked to be a fixture in the middle of the Oakland rotation for years to come; however, he struggled at times throughout the season and was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.  His role quickly shifted to that of a depth arm, and became the 6th starter in the five-man rotation.  Sonny GrayA.J. GriffinJarrod Parker, and Dan Straily are all ahead of Milone in the rotation, and if Bartolo Colon is brought back by Oakland, then Milone is most likely headed back to Triple-A.  If the A's decide to make Milone available, plenty of teams could use him as a back of the rotation arm, including Cleveland.

Marco Estrada –  Milwaukee Brewers
2013: 7-4, 3.87 ERA, 128.0 IP, 29 BB, 118 SO

Estrada is another guy that I am a big fan of and hope the Indians check in on.  The Brewers may be entering a bit of a rebuilding phase, and may look to deal some of their Major League players for prospects.  With Estrada being under team control for just two more seasons, he may not fit into Milwaukee's future plans if they do decide to rebuild.  It's hard to determine the kind of package it would take to get Estrada from Milwaukee, but with pitching being in such high demand, the Brewers may ask for a couple of well thought of prospects in return.  There is one concern with Estrada as he has yet to surpass even 140 innings in a season; although he has only been a starter for the last two seasons.  In 2013, Estrada dealt with a hamstring injury that limited him to 21 starts.

Travis Wood –  Chicago Cubs
2013: 9-12, 3.11 ERA, 200.0 IP, 66 BB, 144 SO

Wood is a guy I was hoping the Indians could acquire last offseason and this past trade deadline.  After his great 2013 season, it may be too late.  Wood established himself as a very good middle of the rotation starter for the Cubs after finishing 12th in the NL in ERA.  The Cubs are an up-and-coming team, and with Wood not eligible for free agency until 2017, Chicago may be more inclined to make him a fixture in their rotation rather than dealing him.  If he is made available, he could fit nicely into the Cleveland rotation.  However, at this point, Chicago may ask more for him than the Indians are willing to give up.

Lottery Tickets

Before I begin, I should mention that these “Lottery Ticket” arms aren't necessarily seen as pitchers who can help the Indians rotation right now.  After all, a team looking to compete for the playoffs probably wouldn't be bringing in these guys to give them a guaranteed spot in the rotation.  These are arms that could rebound as a depth option and possibly help the Indians in the future.

Zach Britton –  Baltimore Orioles
2013: 2-3, 4.95 ERA, 40.0 IP, 17 BB, 18 SO

Just a couple of seasons ago, Britton was seen by many as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.  In fact, going into the 2011 season, Britton was ranked as the 28th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America.  In the minors, Britton was a groundball machine.  His 2009 and 2010 seasons in the minors put him on the fast track to the Orioles rotation.  That's where his career seemed to stall out.  In 2012 and 2013, Britton struggled in both the majors and the minors.  If the Indians could acquire him for a low cost, he may be another nice project with big upside for pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

Dellin Betances –  New York Yankees
2013: 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 5.0 IP, 2 BB, 10 SO

Betances is another former top prospect, ranked 41st by and 63rd by Baseball America heading into the 2012 season.  However, in 2011 in four Triple-A starts, Betances posted a 5.14 ERA.  He carried that bad showing into 2012, when he put up a 6.39 ERA in 16 Triple-A starts and a 6.51 ERA in 11 Double-A appearances (10 starts).  His prospect star regained a little of its former luster in 2013 when, working mainly out of the bullpen, he pitched to the tune of a 2.68 ERA in 38 games (6 starts).  The Yankees may now hold on to him as a bullpen arm, but if the Indians believe they can transform him back into a promising starter, he may be worth checking in on.  Just another potential project for Callaway.

David Phelps –  New York Yankees
2013: 6-5, 4.98 ERA, 86.2 IP, 35 BB, 79 SO

For the last two seasons, Phelps has worked as both a starter and a reliever for the Yankees.  In 2012, Phelps appeared in 33 games, starting 11 of them.  In 2013, 12 of Phelps' 22 appearances were starts.  If the Indians were to acquire him, he could help them in a similar swing role.  With the Indians also having needs in their bullpen, Phelps could fill one of those spots until injury or ineffectiveness opened a spot in the rotation then Phelps could fill that rotation spot for the time being.  It wouldn't be an acquisition that would cause a shifting of the powers in the American League, but Phelps has an ability to help a team in several ways.

Ricky Romero –  Toronto Blue Jays
2013: 0-2, 11.05 ERA, 7.1 IP, 8 BB, 5 SO

Romero is the definition of a lottery ticket.  He went from being an All-Star and the ace of the Toronto staff in 2011, to starting the 2013 season in High-A ball.  His attempt to regain his form in the minors this past season didn't exactly go so well.  In 120.2 innings pitched in the minors in 2013, Romero had a 5.52 ERA, while walking 63 and striking out 82.  He is owed $7.5 million in both 2014 and 2015, and has a $13 million club option for 2016.  At this point, Toronto would almost assuredly pay the vast majority of that contract to get someone to take him off of their hands.  It may be unlikely that the Indians would want to give up anything for Romero, but if they believe Callaway could work another miracle, then maybe they look into it.

Josh Beckett –  Los Angeles Dodgers
2013: 0-5, 5.19 ERA, 43.1 IP, 15 BB, 41 SO

Beckett is coming off of surgery for his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but expects to be ready for the 2014 season.  He is owed $15.75 million in 2014 and not even the Dodgers can afford to pay that price.  Beckett already has a connection to Terry Francona as he was the ace of Francona's Red Sox from 2006 to 2011.  If the former All-Star proves healthy this winter, and the Dodgers are willing to eat a majority of his 2014 salary, the Indians may be interested in reuniting Beckett with Francona.  It would be a risk to have to pay him anything or guarantee him a rotation spot, but if he looks healthy again, he could be an interesting veteran option for the back of the rotation.

Again, please feel free to comment on the aforementioned options, or state pitchers you think the Indians could pursue in the trade market.

User Comments

November 6, 2013 - 10:02 AM EST
Corey Hart is not a 3B. After double knee surgeries, not sure he can even play the OF that well.
November 5, 2013 - 9:27 PM EST
Josh Willingham in right field. Chase Headley or Cory Hart at 3rd base. Tomlin to be added to starters. Lee and Carlos Carraso to bull pen. Maybe Vinnie will regain velocity and location. We should not destroy the foundation by Tito last year with new older player and lose our young veterans.
November 5, 2013 - 8:24 AM EST

There are rumors the Cardinals may look to upgrade in CF this winter over Jay. Reports are Taveras will get looks in CF. He's athletic but remains to be seen how well he'll play in CF vs RF (where he normally is). I'm not sure the Cardinals would want to take on Bourn's contract though they were willing to pay Beltran big bucks who was much older/worse defensively so never say never. Not likely to land a top pitcher from the Cards for him though. Just a team off the top of my head that may be in search of a CFer and has some pitching to spare. Bourn for Peavy is a bit intriguing too though.
November 4, 2013 - 6:33 PM EST
There are a number of guys on this list I like, we just don't have a lot of trade-able pieces. Chiz should be made available, and Bauer along with any other prospect not named Lindor or Salazar should be available, but to acquire the better pitchers on this list it is going to take at least one top 100 prospect or a ML regular. I'm not sure we have the ammo to make a major upgrade via trade.

Maybe Bourn could be used to acquire someone like Lackey or Peavy from the Bosox. Who else out there has pitching to spare and also needs a CF?
November 4, 2013 - 6:11 PM EST
Hellickson is not a good pitcher. There's "lottery" pitchers I'd rather have over him. Especially since they'd have to trade prospects for him.
November 4, 2013 - 3:11 PM EST

Agree on Cincy being an interesting team with their pitching. Sounds like they could move someone from that rotation. Tribe really liked Leake in the draft and wouldn't be a bad 4-5 guy. Gets rocked at GABP but has some nice road numbers. Bailey is also rumored to be moved and wouldn't be a bad add though on a 1-year deal so not sure I'd give up too much. Cueto's injuries would worry me.
November 4, 2013 - 3:09 PM EST
Joe Kelly got a tiny mention under Lynn but he's a guy I'm pretty intrigued by. He reminds me a bit of Tomlin in that he's a smaller righty but very athletic. Better stuff than Tomlin but still doesn't have a real high ceiling. He may have to battle for a rotation spot or be stuck in middle relief.

Going by fWAR...Kelly was actually worse than Asdrubal this year (0.4 vs 0.6). Not saying fWAR means you can get a guy like Kelly for Asdrubal but may be that "young" pitcher that's actually a reasonable target at this point. Would like to land Lynn but not sure that's possible anymore. a guy I hope the Tribe avoids like the plague. I mean if he was a free agent I'd look at him but the Rays are gonna ask for way too much for him (as they seemed to last winter). He's very overrated.

Price...agree, a pipedream. I mean, Salazar, Lindor and our comp draft pick likely keeps the Rays on the phone and interested but not sure that's the best move for a team like Cleveland.
November 4, 2013 - 2:54 PM EST
Living down here in Cincinnati, the Reds are looking for payroll relief and at the same time retool to make another run at the playoffs in 2014. Two pitchers might be available. Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. Cueto has had injuries last 2 seasons which might make a risk. Bailey is in the same situation as Masterson as ARB3 for 2014. Not sure there enough players on both sides to pull that off.

If the Dodgers cant afford Beckett's contract, we expect the Indians able to afford this contract. Maybe this would be away to trade Cabrera. He would be able to play 2b for the Dodgers.
November 4, 2013 - 2:45 PM EST
Lance Lynn seems to make the most sense on this list. He's cost effective, a big, strong and durable innings eater. The Cards seem likely to make a splash to fill the SS position. But these rumors with the Cards and Indians have gone on for almost 2 yrs... At least it seems that way. I'd be a fan of that move, but it seems unlikely right now.

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