Cleveland Indians Trade Deadline Targets
The August 31st Trade Deadline is quickly approaching. For the Cleveland Indians, the attention this time doesn’t center around shortstop Francisco Lindor. Instead, all eyes are on starting pitcher Mike Clevinger. Zach Plesac is another name to watch but given that he is under control through 2025, the odds of him actually being traded are minimal.
As such, contending teams around baseball have been calling to check in on the price of Clevinger. Friday, Jon Heyman gave an indication regarding the asking price on Twitter.
Clevinger is definitely being talked about in trade scenarios. Indians are known to listen on everyone and some see winter trade as more likely. Price said to be “ridiculous.” But it should be. Talented (141 ERA plus), young (29) and not a free agent for multiple more years.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 28, 2020
As is always the case, premium pitching is going to cost quite a bit in return. That is certainly the case here, but the Indians must be open to trading Clevinger. Entering play on Sunday, as a unit the Indians are batting .224/.328/.359 over the span of 33 games. From a wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) perspective, the lineup has a .306 value in that category. That ranks third worst in the American League ahead of only the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.
While there have been various moments where the lineup has exploded such as Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the fact of the matter is that an additional bat is what the team needs to focus on acquiring before Monday’s Trade Deadline. Therefore, below are some names that the team should focus on trying to acquire. As is always the case, a trade needs to fulfill needs for both teams or all three teams involved. However, first lets discuss what the Indians would be looking for in any return for Clevinger.
Fundamentals of a Deal
For the Indians, the biggest area to focus on from an offensive perspective would be in the outfield. At the start of play Sunday, the Indians outfield is batting .185/.286/.280 on the year with six home runs, 38 RBI, and a 10.0% walk rate. In addition, the outfield has an overall strikeout percentage of 26.7% which ranks third in the American League.
Therefore, the Indians need an outfielder that has a very good chance of getting on base when they come up to bat and someone with some power. It doesn’t mean that it has to be an all or nothing hitter. After all, the Indians have a few hitters that fall into that category in designated hitter Franmil Reyes and right fielder Domingo Santana. Both Reyes and Santana have produced at various moments, but the strikeout percentages are high. Entering Sunday, Reyes has a 28.5% strikeout percentage. Meanwhile, Santana has accumulated a 29.8% value in that category.
Additionally, besides a bat, the Indians always relish opportunities to add young pitching to their system. It has been the hallmark of the team over the last few seasons and that doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon. To meet both needs, Cleveland might need to make a three-team deal like the Trevor Bauer trade at last year’s Trade Deadline.
Trade Deadline Targets for the Indians
Now that the fundamentals of a deal have been set, let’s look at some actual names the team might look to target. As always, these names are just general names to focus on as the trade package going back to Cleveland would be more than just one player especially if it’s a three-team deal.
1. Ender Inciarte (Atlanta Braves)
The Atlanta Braves desperately need a starting pitcher of the magnitude of Mike Clevinger. Clevinger would help to replace the production lost by Mike Soroka when he hit the Injured List with a torn right Achilles tendon. Also, Clevinger would pair nicely with Max Fried and Kyle Wright as a 1-2-3 punch.
Atlanta addressed their starting rotation to some degree on Sunday with the acquisition of Tommy Milone from the Baltimore Orioles. Although, the team needs to focus on adding at least one more starter.
In this deal, the Indians would receive outfielder Ender Inciarte. Inciarte would give the Indians for the remainder of this year and next season. He is a defensive outfielder as illustrated by the three Gold Glove Awards that he has won over his big league career. Additionally, Inciarte has the ability to get on base. So far this year, he’s gotten on base at a .301 clip, but just last year his total on-base percentage was .343 over 230 plate appearances.
For this trade to happen, the Braves will definitely need to add another impact piece or two. Referring back to the criteria mentioned above, that’s where one of the Braves top prospects comes into play. As it currently stands, outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters along with starting pitcher Ian Anderson are the team’s top three prospects. One would definitely need to be included in the return package to Cleveland.
2. Jackie Bradley Jr. (Boston Red Sox)
The Boston Red Sox are expected to be major sellers leading up to Monday’s deadline. They already made a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies involving relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. Now, there are some other pieces on the Red Sox roster garnering attention from other teams including outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley Jr. is set to hit free agency after this season which wouldn’t be ideal for the Indians who would prefer a long-term solution. However, when he is healthy he has the ability to produce and put up good offensive numbers. So far this season through 29 games, he has a .308 on-base percentage. Boston would absolutely need to include an additional piece or two depending on the prospect to make this deal happen. Given that the team needs pitching, they would likely be reluctant to trade one of their pitching prospects.
Although, someone like first and third base prospect Bobby Dalbec could be of interest. Boston already has a promising young first baseman in Triston Casas. Additionally, third base is blocked with Rafael Devers. Therefore, Cleveland could look to go this route and address their offense in a different way through an infield addition.
3. Brian Goodwin (Los Angeles Angels)
Last offseason, the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians had trade discussions involving both Mike Clevinger and outfielder Jo Adell. Talks failed to materialize likely due to the fact that the Angels didn’t want to give up Adell at the time. While the Angels might not be a contender this year necessarily, they are going to be looking to do a short-term retooling and get back at being a contender in the American League West next year.
After all, they signed Anthony Rendon this past offseason to pair with Mike Trout in the lineup because they intend on eventually trying to win a World Series. Given the struggles of the pitching staff once again, Clevinger would be a tremendous boost for the Angels. Although Adell might be someone the Indians demand, it seems more likely that the Angels would deal outfielder Brian Goodwin in a trade for Clevinger.
Goodwin would be a tremendous acquisition for the Indians even if his skillset doesn’t come close to Adell’s. If this trade were to occur, it would need to include another piece. As such, one name to watch is left-hander Reid Detmers. Detmers projects to be a middle of the rotation guy moving forward and while the Angels need pitching, maybe this is where a third team comes into the picture or maybe Clevinger can fill that void for Los Angeles in the near-term.
4. Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Given that they are the best team in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t need to do much between now and Monday. Although, it’s a given that the team is still going to be active in trade discussions and look to upgrade their team where possible. As such, adding Clevinger would be pretty special for a Dodgers team that has already won 25 games heading into Sunday.
With Clevinger in the mix, the Dodgers would be set up very well for the postseason. Clayton Kershaw would anchor things down at the top. In addition, the team would have Dustin May, Ross Stripling, and Julio Urias on top of Clevinger. That’s even without taking into consideration Walker Buehler as well. Buehler hit the Injured List this past week.
Joc Pederson is set to hit free agency at the end of this year. Therefore, the Dodgers would have to include a top prospect in the deal. That’s where the focus turns to the Dodgers second-best overall prospect right-hander Josiah Gray. Gray projects to be a number three starting pitcher in the future. However, as he continues to develop, there’s the potential he could reach an even higher ceiling than that.
In the end, it remains to be seen if Mike Clevinger even ends up getting traded. He is someone the team might look to move this coming offseason. Regardless, there are plenty of teams that could use his services. Furthermore, he is someone that could net the Indians a significant package in return.
For Cleveland, the primary focus needs to revolve around the outfield and trying to get a pitching prospect. The Indians have always done well in player development. Therefore, getting the right return should be no problem for the organization before the Trade Deadline at 4 PM Eastern Monday afternoon.
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