If Tribe Makes Move, It Should Be Dealing from Strength

With the Cleveland Indians playing well and actually getting into a tie for first place after Sunday’s win over the Tigers, Tribe fans are thinking about what GM Chris Antonetti can do to put his team over the top.

Most everyone feels Terry Francona needs one more quality starting pitcher if his team is going stay in the race into and throughout September.

That leads to speculation as to what the Indians would have to give up to land someone who would upgrade the starting rotation.

Keep in mind that weakening your squad in one area to help in another doesn’t usually work out unless you have someone as good to take the place of the player you are dealing.

That would mean not trading one of the players who consistently comes up in this discussion, SS Asdrubal Cabrera. 

Mike Aviles is a nice player, and has done a solid job with the Tribe, but he’s not an everyday player, let alone an everyday SS.  Check his numbers, he is much more productive getting 350 to 400 at bats in a season, not 600 in a year.

That’s the argument for some so-called “experts”, you can trade Cabrera because Aviles can step in and play short. 

If Antonetti was to deal Cabrera, a two-time all-star, he would have to get a top of the rotation type starter, and who is going to deal one of those?  We don’t see teams willing to make that kind of trade.

If  you are going to get a middle of the road starter, aren’t you better off just going with Trevor Bauer or Carlos Carrasco, either of whom might be better than someone a bad team is trying to unload?

The other player usually mentioned in trade talk is SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland’s best prospect now playing at Class A Carolina and hitting .330 at age 19. 

Certainly, Lindor would be desirable to any organization.  Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan said that Lindor might just be the minor league’s top prospect period by the end of the season.

Many teams, particularly those out of the race and looking to shed salary, would be happy to trade you a good to very good starter for Lindor.  However, Lindor may be the Cleveland version of Derek Jeter, a franchise SS who can play 10-15 years with the Indians.

That’s not to denigrate Cabrera, who is a very good player, arguably the best shortstop in the American League. 

But Lindor is showing signs that he is special, and the Indians cannot take the chance of trading him and having him develop into a perennial all-star type player.

As said before, you have to make these types of deals from a position of strength.  And where does the Indians’ organization have a lot of talent?  The bullpen.

That’s why a possible trade for closer Chris Perez could make sense.  The Indians have a few options they could look at to close games, such as Vinnie Pestano, Cody Allen, and perhaps Bryan Shaw. 

The farm system is also filled with bullpen candidates like Trey Haley, Preston Guilmet, Scott Barnes, Bryce Stowell, and Austin Adams.  

Understand that the concern there would be switching to an unproven closer in the middle of a successful season, but with the depth in this area, it’s a well calculated gamble.

If the Indians stay in contention going into July, there is little doubt they will do something.  But weakening one part of the team to help somewhere else makes no sense.  That’s something to watch as the season unfolds.

KM

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