Here are the latest rumors, whispers and reports involving the Cleveland Indians leading up to the Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline:
Friday, July 29
9:01 AM: 92.3 The Fan’s T.J Zuppe examines some of the pros and cons of the latest trade rumors involving the Indians. Catch up on some of the latest trade rumors here.
Wednesday, July 27
7:25 PM: The market appears to be heating up on catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and the Cleveland Indians are believed to be heavily involved in the mix of clubs interested. In addition to Cleveland, the Texas Rangers, New York Mets, Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox have all been mentioned in connection with the Milwaukee Brewers’ talented backstop, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports. Even the Detroit Tigers, in a surprising development, have been rumored to be interested in Lucroy, though there are several theories as to why, including the Tigers’ potential desire to up the asking price for the Indians.
Crasnick indicates there has been dialogue between the Brewers and Indians involving Lucroy and left-handed reliever Will Smith. While the jury is out on the Tribe’s biggest offensive need — catcher, outfield or third base — there’s no doubt that adding to the bullpen is still at the top of the Tribe’s wish list. With Milwaukee holding the talented catcher and a number of quality relievers, the fit between the two clubs could be natural. Still, the price is believed to be high for Lucroy, the best catcher available on the trade market.
If the Indians can find a way to fix two problem areas in one trade, not just focusing on one spot, the discussion between the two organizations certainly makes a lot more sense. The questions are: How much of the reported interest is accurate and how much of it is being floated by the Brewers to gain more leverage in talks with a club like Cleveland?
12:36 PM: Minnesota Twins infielder Eduardo Nunez is one of the players being “evaluated” by the Cleveland Indians, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. The 29-year-old infielder is slashing .298/.326/.445 in 89 games for the Twins in 2016. He is also under club control through next season and could provide another option for Cleveland at third base.
Also, as pointed out a few times below, the Indians could desperately use a player capable of hitting left-handed pitching well, and Steve Pearce of the Tampa Bay Rays would be a good fit. Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that the Tribe are one of several teams asking about Pearce’s availability. The right-handed hitter’s versatility (LF, RF, 1B) could also make him appealing to Cleveland.
Tuesday, July 26
1:05 PM: The Toronto Blue Jays officially acquired outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from the San Diego Padres for Minor League pitching prospect Hansel Rodriguez.
Monday, July 25
11:01 PM: The Toronto Blue Jays have emerged as the front-runner to land San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr., Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports, however, the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles are also still believed to be involved (Twitter). Upton is earning $15.45 million this year, with $16.45 million guaranteed for 2016. How much of that the Padres are willing to eat, as Rosenthal suggests, will determine how much return they get for the 31-year-old outfielder.
The right-handed hitter is slashing .256/.304/.439 this season with 16 homers, 20 stolen bases, 46 runs scored and a 100 wRC+. The Tribe’s interest in Upton goes back to much earlier in his career when viewed as a potential future impact talent with the Tampa Bay Rays. His career, however, has not played out as many envisioned, but he has revived some of his worth over the past two seasons in San Diego.
5:01 PM: The Chicago Cubs have officially landed Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees (Story). Where do the Cleveland Indians go from here? 92.3 The Fan Indians Beat Reporter T.J. Zuppe joined Baskin and Phelps earlier today to break down the latest on the trade deadline and the Tribe’s rough weekend in Baltimore (Listen).
12:08 PM: According to multiple reports, the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs have agreed to a deal barring something unforeseen centered around closer Aroldis Chapman. Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reports the Cubs will get Chapman while the Yankees will acquire shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, Chicago’s no. 1 prospect, outfield prospect Billy McKinney, pitcher Adam Warren, and one more player who is unknown at this time.
Whether the Yankees — if and when a deal with the Cubs is officially completed — will turn their attention to dealing reliever Andrew Miller is an unknown, however some have suggested he could be moved prior to the deadline. With the Yankees getting so much for Chapman, a guy set to become a free agent at the end of the season, it is conceivable that New York could ask for more for the left-handed Miller, who is under club control for two more seasons beyond 2016.
Sunday, July 24
9:14 PM: Several reports across the internet have the Chicago Cubs closing in on New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports via a source: “Chapman to Cubs looking likelier. Multiple pieces from Cubs, including Gleyber Torres, are agreed upon. Still not done.” Even if the Indians miss out on Chapman, who could be on his way to Chicago if a deal is struck, Cleveland has some pieces New York may find appealing in other deals they could consider. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the two clubs have discussed Indians shortstop prospect Yu-Cheng Chang.
While the Yanks have reportedly told teams they are focused on trading Chapman, lefty Andrew Miller could be the next to go. Miller’s additional years of control — unlike Chapman, who will become a free agent at the end of the season — might make Miller more appetizing to the Tribe. And if Cleveland is forced to give up top prospects, they certainly would prefer to control the acquisition beyond 2016. The Yankees’ willingness to deal Miller is a different question.
1:55 PM: It seems as if a different team has been viewed as the favorite to land New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman at different points today, and the latest rumor has a different team potentially in the lead. Bruce LeVine of CBS Chicago reports that the Cleveland Indians “have the best names on the table for Aroldis Chapman,” at least according to a source. No specific prospect names have ever surfaced during past trade speculations involving the Indians and Yankees, but the Yanks have reportedly been scouting various levels of the Tribe’s Minor Leagues. LeVine tweets that the Washington Nationals have also been aggressive, but New York could be close to picking the best offer.
1:00 PM: The San Francisco Giants get the sense that the New York Yankees are moving in a different direction, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. Andrew Baggarly is getting the same sense. Jon Heyman writes that the Indians are one of at least a few teams telling New York that the remaining money left on Chapman’s deal might present a bit of an issue, but the Yanks are telling club they will not be eating any money.
That could be, however, those teams trying to see how willing New York would be to toss in some cash.
10:45 AM: Aroldis Chapman Watch continues this morning, as the New York Yankees have asked all teams interested in the hard-throwing lefty to send the Yanks their final offers, the New York Post is reporting. Ken Davidoff says the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals are still in on Chapman, and a mystery team is also in the mix. Jon Heyman of MLB Network says the Nats have Chapman as their no. 1 target. He also believes the San Francisco Giants are also still involved, but doesn’t believe the Indians or Giants are progressing toward a deal at the moment.
Saturday, July 23
10:38 PM: The New York Yankees are telling teams they will hold on to lefty Andrew Miller but are close to dealing closer Aroldis Chapman, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports on Twitter. Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Today’s Knuckleball reports that the Indians were one of four clubs still in on Chapman as of recently. The other teams Heyman mentions include the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals. Chapman, the flame throwing southpaw, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Chapman’s lack of club control beyond this year likely made Miller a more desired target for Cleveland (rentals really aren’t their thing), but if New York is indeed telling clubs that Miller is staying, the Tribe may have quickly turned their attention to Chapman, who is certainly the best reliever currently on the trade market.
5:30 PM: For the latest rumors and trade speculation prior to the deadline, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation and MLB Daily Dish joined T.J. Zuppe on 92.3 The Fan. Chris talks about some of the names linked to the Indians and what he sees the other clubs in the AL Central doing prior to Aug. 1: Listen.
10:45 PM: While the Baltimore Orioles are reportedly in trade discussions for San Diego Padres outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. (per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal), ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports the Indians have also had some talks with San Diego about the 31-year-old bat. MLB Network’s Peter Gammons has also pointed to past interest by Cleveland in Upton. The Blue Jays have also been linked to Upton, who has slashed .259/.315/.439 (106 OPS+) over the past two seasons with the Padres, revitalizing his once promising career.
Friday, July 22
9:20 PM: The Indians are still in on Yankees relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Today’s Knuckleball writes. As pretty much everyone has written or reported, Heyman also believes bullpen is at the top of the Tribe’s to-do list. As for some of the rumors involving Jonathan Lucroy and Cleveland’s attempts to add a catcher, Heyman writes: “One Indians connected person said while that rumor wasn’t complete BS, it was ‘close to it.'” Heyman also speculates that outfielders Jay Bruce and Melvin Upton Jr. could make sense for the Indians.
5:27 PM: Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley is expected to resume baseball activities early next week after undergoing an outpatient procedure to remove scar tissue build up in his surgically repaired right shoulder, the team announced on Friday.
5:01 PM: The Indians are one of five teams who continue to be linked to Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Today’s Knuckleball reports. Bruce is currently slashing .263/.314/.530 with 19 homers and a 117 wRC+, the best offensive season he’s had in three years. However, his poor defense makes him a better fit for teams who can use him some at DH.
That might make his fit on Cleveland’s roster, with Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli sharing time at first base and DH, tough to picture. But Michael Brantley’s shoulder situation has the Tribe looking at a number of bat options on the trade market. Bruce is under control through a club option for $13 million in 2017. Heyman adds that the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jay and Washington Nationals also have interest.
1:35 PM: The Tampa Bay Rays are hearing from a handful of teams interested in 1B/OF Steve Pearce, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. The right-handed hitting Pearce is having a great season in Tampa in part-time duty (.322/.393/.552, 10 HR, 156 wRC+), and Crasnick believes the Indians and San Francisco Giants could be potential landing spots.
Cleveland has a need for a right-handed bat who is capable of playing corner outfield to rotate with Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin. Currently, Abraham Almonte and rookie Erik Gonzalez are getting at-bats against left-handed pitching, but Almonte is far better against right-handers and Gonzalez is an infielder by trade, so Pearce could certainly provide some value for the Tribe and would likely cost less than some of the other bats presently on the market.
1:00 PM: The Indians are close to signing left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher to a Minor League contract, Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes reports. The 34-year-old southpaw, who hasn’t pitched in the Majors since last year with the Houston Astros, was in camp with the Tribe this spring and has spent most of the season in the Minors with the Los Angeles Dodgers. News of a nearing agreement was first reported by Chris Cotillo on Twitter. The need for a lefty in the bullpen has existed for Cleveland all season, and Thatcher, provided he passes his physical, could provide some insurance and another relief option if called up later this season.
12:30 PM: Cleveland is expected to provide an update on outfielder Michael Brantley’s shoulder at some point on Friday. Brantley’s latest rehab assignment was put on hold this week after his surgically repaired right shoulder continued to give him issues. The left-handed hitter underwent an MRI on his shoulder earlier this week but results have not been made available. News of his status could impact what the Indians do prior to the deadline.