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Potential replacements if the Indians trade a starting pitcher

Potential replacements if the Indians trade a starting pitcher
Edinson Volquez (Photo: AP)
December 1, 2014
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As the 2014/2015 offseason continues one item the Indians are looking to add is depth starting pitching. If the Indians trade one of their young starters then a veteran starting pitcher would be looked at to stabilize the starting rotation.  Let’s take a look at some possibilities via trade and free agency that could be viable options for the Tribe…

Justin Masterson – STL

Could we see a Justin Masterson reunion in Cleveland?  The possibility is definitely there.  After going 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA as part of Cleveland’s rotation last season, Masterson was traded to St. Louis in exchange for outfielderJames Ramsey.  He did not fare any better with the Cardinals as he finished the regular season in the bullpen after making six starts for St. Louis.  In nine games (three relief appearances) Masterson went 3-3 with a 7.04 ERA and was left off of the Cardinals postseason roster.

Given Masterson’s struggles one would wonder why Cleveland would be interested in bringing him back.  The fact that he is only 29-years old and is only one season removed from an all-star appearance gives two good reasons for giving him another chance.  Given the success pitching coach Mickey Callaway had with rejuvenating Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir with the Indians in 2013, I like his chances of getting Masterson back on track if he is healthy.

Aaron Harang – ATL

The Indians brought Harang to camp in 2014 on a minor league contract.  After a very solid spring training Harang was told he would not make the 25-man roster and opted for free agency rather than taking an assignment to Triple-A Columbus.  The Atlanta Braves signed him to a one year contract and he posted a 12-12 record with a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts and a total of 204 innings.  He proved to be a reliable innings eater at the back of Atlanta’s rotation and fits what the Indians are searching for.

Francisco Liriano – PIT

Francisco Liriano is an interesting option for the Indians.  Liriano has jump started his career the past two seasons with the Pirates going a combined 23-18 with a 3.26 ERA.  After losing velocity on his fastball following Tommy John surgery during the 2007/2008 season, Liriano averaged 93 MPH last season.  When his fastball is working he can be a strikeout pitcher.  The Indians could use another left-handed starter to help balance out the rotation.  Liriano is sure to attract interest from several teams, so it will be a matter of how high his market value rises and if the Indians can afford to bid with other suitors.  The major concern with Liriano is durability as he has spent time on the disabled list in seven of his nine seasons in the major leagues. He also was given a qualifying offer which means the Indians would lose a first round pick to sign him.

Edinson Volquez – PIT

Another Pittsburgh starting pitcher who may garner some interest from the Tribe is Edinson Volquez.  After an unsuccessful 2013 season split between San Diego and the L.A. Dodgers, Volquez signed a one year free agent deal with Pittsburgh.  In 2014 Volquez put up impressive numbers going 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA.  Volquez proved durable last season logging 192.2 innings.  Like Liriano he also averaged just over 93 MPH on his fastball in 2014.  Volquez will also be in demand on the free agent market and the price may prove to be too high for the Indians.  If the Dolans are willing to dish out the cash Volquez could solidify an already solid rotation and offer the Indians some flexibility to use a young arm in a deal to acquire a bat.

Jake Peavy – SF

This former San Diego Padre ace completely turned his 2014 season around after being traded from the Boston Red Sox to the San Francisco Giants.  Peavy struggled in Boston posting a 1-9 record with a 4.72 ERA.  After joining the Giants, Peavy went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in helping the Giants win the World Series.  Now at age 34 Peavy is not the power pitcher he was early on in his career, but he is still a reliable rotation option who could help a young contender like the Indians.  After some injury riddled seasons, he was durable in 2014 logging 202-2/3 innings between Boston and San Francisco.  Peavy is also a positive influence in the clubhouse who could help serve as a mentor for the Indians young starters.

Ryan Vogelsong – SF

A more cost effective option for the Indians is 37-year old Ryan Vogelsong who spent the past four seasons with the Giants.  While his 2014 numbers were not flashy (8-13, 4.00 ERA) he has been solid in three of his four seasons as a starter with the Giants.  He logged 184-2/3 innings in 32 starts last season.  One concern is Vogelsong will turn 38 in July of 2015, but for a pitcher his age he has shown minimal signs of slowing down.  Given his age he will most likely be given a one year contract with a possible second year option.

There is a rumor put out there by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports that the Indians are exploring possible trades forNick Swisher in which they would in essence swap bad contracts with another team looking to move a player in a similar situation as Swisher.  Here are a couple pitchers who would fit that description…

Ubaldo Jimenez – BAL

After a nice 2013 season with the Indians in which Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA, Ubaldo signed a four year contract with the Orioles.  Jimenez struggled mightily in Baltimore’s rotation last season going 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA.  Like his former Cleveland teammate Justin Masterson, by seasons end Jimenez had been demoted to the bullpen and was left of the Orioles postseason roster.

Why would the Indians want to bring back Jimenez and the three years and $39 million dollars left on his contract?  The best answer I can give is pitching coach Mickey Callaway.  He did wonders with Jimenez in 2013.  At 31 years old Jimenez is still fairly young and has proved durable only spending time on the disabled list once in his career.  With the $39 million left on his contract it could blow up in the Indians face if he is unable to find his 2013 form with Callaway, but if he is able to regain his form it could pay huge dividends for the Tribe as a solid #2 behind Corey Kluber.

Edwin Jackson – CHI (NL)

Another former solid starting pitcher who has had two straight forgettable seasons with the Chicago Cubs is Edwin Jackson.  Like Masterson and Jimenez, Jackson was also demoted to the bullpen in 2014.  His total numbers for last season were 6-15 with a 6.33 ERA.  The 31-year old right-hander has two years and $26 million left on his contract.  He and the Cubs are both looking at a change of scenery.  This would be another high risk move for the Indians though his contract is one year shorter than Jimenez.  Once again the upside is Mickey Callaway working to restore Jackson into a serviceable starting pitcher.

The Indians would like to add a veteran starter to the rotation and as you can see there are some nice options available.  It will come down to the free agent market for the aforementioned free agent pitchers or whether or not moving Nick Swisher’s contract for a bad contract in return can prove to be a positive transaction.

User Comments

December 2, 2014 - 6:16 PM EST
So Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlan were both non tenders for Atlanta...probably will both get resigned but if there were ever guys who fit what the Indians have done in the past...
December 2, 2014 - 10:45 AM EST
I would keep our starters and pitching staff together. Our staff had the best era after the All Star break.
Of the list submitted, I think Brandon Morrow, if no tendered by Atlanta, would be a good fit. Also I really like Hochevar, who is a free agent and has been a starter moved to bull pen and had a great ERA before
his injury of 1.92. When you sign another player, you must give your star players at least that much in case Kulber, who is our ace.
If we cannot get those two, if Masterson signed would Terry want to start him over a starter and remember he is only here for one year. Why make changes for ONE year?
If we can trade Swisher's bad contract for Jiminez, I think I would do it. Jiminez is 29 years od and Mickey can get him straight.
Last I think free agent Hamel of Oakland would be a good fit.

December 2, 2014 - 5:43 AM EST
I'd call Oakland about Scott Kazmir. 1 year deal. Or take the Kazmir/Millwood approach to Billingsley/Masterson types.

But....I'd rather keep the 5 we have.
December 1, 2014 - 5:17 PM EST
Do not trade of the top 5.
December 1, 2014 - 4:24 PM EST
Hochevar asked a SP or RP? Either way, I'd say sign him, give him a shot he's another talented arm coming off injury.
December 1, 2014 - 4:16 PM EST
I'd choose any one of several of the names that have been mentioned, even Masty (I think he'll bounce back strongly this season). Billingsley, Vogelsong, Volquez, and even Liriano could all be possibilities. And how about Hochevar?
December 1, 2014 - 2:04 PM EST
What about Brett Anderson, Josh Johnson, or trading for Kazmir, Latos, Leake, Kennedy, Ross, Cashner, Gee, Colon, and Niese?
December 1, 2014 - 1:23 PM EST
The cheap depth option I like most is Blake Beavan. Former 1st round arm, still only 25/26yo. Well worth a Minors signing

If they trade a SP, then McAllister, Marcum, Tomlin, Brewer, Maronde, Cloyd and Beavan battle for SP5 with at least 4 of them becoming depth at Columbus with ample ML experience.
Ideally, Marcum is healthy and back to form taking the SP5 spot, with McAllister going to the pen and Tomlin, Brewer, Cloyd, Beavan and Maronde in the Columbus rotation
C L Who
December 1, 2014 - 12:09 PM EST
Rather than trade one of our young starters for a veteran, let's sign a veteran FA or trade for a veteran starter, and then trade the veteran while keeping the youngster.
December 1, 2014 - 11:07 AM EST
Me too. I'd take Billingsley on a incentive laden contract in a heartbeat.
December 1, 2014 - 11:04 AM EST
Another pitcher that is available as a FA is Brandon Morrow.
December 1, 2014 - 10:57 AM EST
I'm surprised you left out Billingsley with incentive laden contract off your list?

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