CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Make no mistake, there were pieces outside of Joe Smith available at the non-waiver trade deadline that could have helped the Cleveland Indians.
Ultimately the Indians got what they coveted most, bullpen help, at a price that was extremely affordable to a team trying to win now.
Though on the outside, other contenders made bigger splashes, like the Los Angeles Dodgers picking up another ace in Yu Darvish or the New York Yankees doing the same with Sonny Gray.
So why not the Indians, embroiled in a close divisional battle with a team who stocked up?
First of all, note the two biggest names that were moved. Both were starting pitchers, the position the Indians may need least of anywhere on the diamond.
With the way Danny Salazar has emerged from the disabled list, it looks as if the Indians will have three top-two level starters in October, should they all stay healthy for once. There is a possibility, especially given two of those three guys were not, that the team does not have a healthy staff come October.
But what about what the Dodgers and Yankees gave up for their new toys?
For Darvish, the Dodgers surrendered middle infield prospect Willie Calhoun, currently ranked 74th on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, though 11th in the Dodgers’ organization alone, according to ESPN’s Keith Law.
For Gray, the Yankees gave up outfield prospect Dustin Fowler, the 89th-best prospect in the game according to Baseball America, along with another high-upside prospect in James Kaprielian. The A’s also got SS/OF Jorge Mateo and $1.5 million in international signing money.
By those standards, the Indians would have needed to begin a deal with 1B Bobby Bradley at the least, who came in at 93rd on that list. Bradley would have been a lower baseline than what the others surrendered, unless they wanted to sweeten the deal with #18 Francisco Mejia or #24 Triston McKenzie.
Consider then that Bradley is at a soon-to-be position of need for the Indians, putting up big power numbers at Double-A Akron with Carlos Santana hitting the free agent market this summer, and Edwin Encarnacion headed into his age-35 season in 2018.
For Bradley and more at a position that the Indians may not need? Probably not the best plan.
“The Dodgers didn’t need another starter,” you say.
Sure, they did not. But at a $225 million payroll, the Dodgers are a bit less in need to groom prospects all the way through the minors compared to the Indians at $123 million. The same can be said for the Yankees, who have the cash and the league’s best farm system.
As a matter of fact, pretty much every deal made on deadline day was revolved around arms, with the last bat of note to go in a trade being J.D. Martinez a week ago (an option the Indians pursued).
Unless the Indians wanted to unseat their catchers with one that already spurned them and is having a horrid year in Jonathan Lucroy, or they wanted to plug a hole in right field with a minor upgrade of Melky Cabrera, there was really nothing else Chris Antonetti should have done.