The Cleveland Indians, fresh off of taking 3 of 4 from the Detroit Tigers, just lost 2 of 3 to the lowly Minnesota Twins. It is that inconsistency that could cause the Indians’ Front Office to either hold or sell come the July 31st trade deadline. The team’s executives are in a tough position where they are trying to figure out what is best for the team both in the short and long term. Based on the owner’s ability, or lack thereof, to spend money can also impact the Indians moves at the MLB Trade Deadline.
The bullpen has been solid but the team could sorely use a starting pitcher and a bat for the lineup. As always the starting pitching market comes with a high price tag, one the Indians are unlikely to meet. Bullpen help is likely the cheapest during this time of year as well. A good bat falls somewhere in the middle. Given that it is a big need for the team we will start looking there at a few names available that could help the Tribe make a run to the playoffs.
The biggest name with the biggest contract on the free agent market is Rios. Once known for the disastrous contract given him by the Toronto Blue Jays, he is now a wanted man as his contract is close to running the course. Rios doesn’t have huge power numbers but has been a steady contributor on a flailing Texas Rangers squad. He is batting .302 with 4 home runs and 42 RBIs. The Rangers will likely take calls for Rios as their season has not gone the way they would have liked. For the Indians the problem is money. He is making $12.5 million this season and has a team option for $14 million. The Rangers will expect fair value for a player they could keep for 1.5 years but will the Tribe pony up the money for the option? If they do that takes them out of the free agent market next season.
The Twins outfielder was almost an Indian. He chose the Twins and seems to have chosen wrong as the Twins are in last in the Central. Willingham has much better power numbers then Rios, with 9 HRs, but is not batting consistent. Willingham can be a free agent at the end of this year. The Twins will want to get more back for him in a trade then they would with a supplemental pick. Will the Twins drive a hard bargain with the in Division team? Is Willingham able to help boost the Tribe’s lackluster lineup?
Byrd is 36 years old but has had a stellar season. He is batting .268 with 19 HRs for the Phillies. Byrd’s contract runs for next year with a team option for the following year. The Phillies will look to be paid well for a player under contract for at least a season and a half, for around $8 million. The Indians would do well adding Byrd’s right hand pop into the lineup. Can the two teams work out yet another deal? Do the Phillies “owe” the Tribe after fleecing them in the Cliff Lee deal? (Obviously a joke) Byrd could be a difference maker if the two teams can come to an agreement.
The Indians should have some interest in talking to the Rays about David Price but Zobrist should also come up. He has the flexibility to play both infield and out. He is hitting .264 with 7 HRs this year. Similar to Price, the Rays haven’t decided if they are buyers or sellers yet. If they do decide to sell Zobrist is bound to be a hot name. He has a team friendly contract for next year, a team option for $7.5 million. Zobrist would give the Indians some options both this year and next. The Rays are likely to drive a hard bargain, is there anything the Tribe can do to get him without giving up high level prospects?
Which bat would you like the Indians to acquire? Do you expect much this MLB Trade Deadline?