CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The non-waiver trade deadline is here. The Indians have won 9-of-10, but have only gained a half-game on the Kansas City Royals and the team is capable of upgrading.
Indians President Chris Antonetti told SiriusXM Sports that he and his front office will be active on the market, as they look for “the right pitcher,” and a couple of bench spots.
That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, as would be expected from a deal-maker not looking to tip their hand.
The front office is normally weary of rental players, but the necessary price for the non-rentals expected to be on the market would be top prospect Francisco Mejia and more. The team may have something up their sleeve in the form of a player on the market that the rumor mill has not caught wind of.
Without knowing that, here are the Top-10 potential trade assets for the Cleveland Indians at the deadline, taking need and potential price into account:
- Yu Darvish (R), SP, Texas Rangers
There are a lot of questions surrounding the availability of Darvish, a former Cy Young runner-up and four-time All-Star, but the Rangers have reportedly made the righty heavily available in trade talks.
The matter that complicates a Darvish trade the most is the in-road the Japan native’s presence gives the Rangers in the race for Shohei Otani, the man being called “the Japanese Babe Ruth.”
If Darvish is retained, Otani could more likely be obtained, putting the Rangers right back in the thick of things in the AL West. At the same time, with the Astros turning into a powerhouse and the team’s best hitter in Adrian Beltre in his age 38 season, a rebuild could also make sense.
For those wondering where Sonny Gray will land on this list, he won’t. The reason Darvish is here is because of his potential price, which is the reason Gray will not appear. If it would not cost Mejia, Gray would be factored in there.
- Jed Lowrie, IF, Oakland Athletics
Lowrie played the first four seasons of his career under Terry Francona in Boston, and gives the Indians more flexibility in the infield. Primarily a second baseman, Lowrie could fill in for Jason Kipnis, while also filling in at third, though he has not played the hot corner since 2015 in Houston.
The 33-year old has turned in one of the best offensive seasons of his career, and his best since 2013, with a 112 wRC+ and .334 wOBA.
If need be, Lowrie also has controllability of sorts, with a team option for next season and a $1 million buyout.
- Jerry Blevins (L), RP, New York Mets
With Boone Logan now on the 60-day disabled list, a situational lefty would be ideal. The Mets are already in sell-mode and Blevins could be next.
The lefty is having a career year and has a team option for 2018 at an affordable $7 million.
As a lefty-specialist, Blevins has thrown 24 1/3 innings to date, allowing a .167/.222/.179 split with 33 strikeouts.
- Zach Britton (L), RP, Baltimore Orioles
This one seems like fodder. Britton is controllable for another season and has had health issues in 2017, so why would the Orioles want to sell low on one of the game’s top closers a year ago?
Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports that the Indians are pursuing Britton with some force, but it would likely take a solid haul to pry him away. Other reports say the team is not interested.
- Andrew McCutchen, RF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen is no longer a center fielder, but he has bounced back from a career-worst 2016.
Cutch is slashing .292/.384/.507 with a .376 wOBA and 134 wRC+, even with a fairly low BABIP by his standards.
The Pirates are only three games out in the NL Central and McCutchen has a team option for 2018, making it fairly unlikely that he will be dealt. Not many teams trade the face of their franchise while still in contention.
But if McCutchen is shopped, the Indians should at least kick the tires of the idea of making him the full-time right fielder and playing Lonnie Chisenhall at first base.
- Jay Bruce, OF/1B, New York Mets
This left-handed slugger has bounced back nicely from a disappointing 2014 and 2015 with fine years since. The Mets are out of contention in the AL East, and Bruce is on an expiring deal.
Bruce is normally a liability in the outfield, though his UZR is positive in RF for the first time in four years, but the offense is there.
If Antonetti is looking for bench pieces, Bruce is not that, he is a starter. Judging what a power bat with a .263 batting average would go for on the open market, Bruce may be too pricey for the Indians, especially considering the presence of Chisenhall when he returns.
- Brandon Phillips, 2B, Atlanta Braves
A 36-year old Phillips makes more sense as a bench player now, but could provide some relief at second base should Jason Kipnis’s injuries be too much.
Phillips is no longer a plus-defender, and has an above average wRC+ for the first time since 2012, with his highest BABIP in that stretch.
- Tony Watson (L), RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Watson has fallen out of favor as the Pirates’ closer, and they may be willing to move off of him as he hits free agency this winter.
The issue is that Watson is not a situational lefty, as left-handed hitters are actually better against him.
- Lance Lynn (R), SP, St. Louis Cardinals
It seems more and more likely that the Cardinals will deal Lynn, who is having another solid season, but certainly not his best.
The righty has a near-career average 3.20 ERA, but a career-high 4.82 FIP while somehow having a career low .225 BABIP. Those numbers paint a picture that points to potential struggles.
The 30-year old will be a free agent after the season, and if the Indians want starting depth, this would be a cheap option. Lynn also has experience as a reliever.
- Asdrubal Cabrera, IF, New York Mets
Nothing about the Cabrera-Indians reunion seems to make a whole lot of sense, but the rumors continue to float around.
Cabrera can no longer play shortstop, and would not in Cleveland, but does not want to play second base either. He has made seven appearances at third base this season.
The former Indian is below replacement level and is unhappy in the Big Apple. The price would be narrow, and Cabrera would be an offensive upgrade over Erik Gonzalez and Giovany Urshela, potentially.
Daniel Nava, OF, Philadelphia Phillies; Marco Estrada, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays; Jhoulys Chacin, RHP, San Diego Padres
Already dealt: Trevor Cahill, RHP, San Diego Padres (Traded to Royals, was #2); Eduardo Nunez, UT, San Francisco Giants (Red Sox, #3); Howie Kendrick, UT, Philadelphia Phillies (Nationals, #5); Pat Neshek, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Rockies, #9); Jonathan Lucroy, C, Texas Rangers (Rockies, #10)