In Cleveland Indians trade talk, ESPN writer Buster Olney sees the LA Dodgers as the most likely landing spot for closer Brad Hand.
The Cleveland Indians have a valuable commodity to trade this summer in reliever Brad Hand, who’s been elite out of the bullpen. MLB talent evaluators believe the Indians will deal Hand because of the volatility that comes with relievers.
Basically, Hand’s stock is never going to be higher, and the Tribe can really expedite their rebuild my moving their closer.
Recent history shows what teams are willing to pay for an elite bullpen arm. The Indians were one of the teams setting this trend back in 2016, giving up Clint Frazier, regarded as the No. 2 prospect in the organizational the time. Pitcher Justus Sheffield, who was a highly thought of prospect, as well.
The Indians struck again last summer, trading their No. 1 prospect, Francisco Mejia for Hand.
ESPN’s Buster Olney believes the Dodgers are in position to keep up this trend and overpay to add Hand to the back end of their bullpen, via TheLandonDemand (subscription).
"“Sitting here today, I think Brad Hand is going to wind up with the Dodgers because the Dodgers were a lot like the Cubs were in 2016, like the Indians were in 2016, where they have this phenomenal team but they clearly have a need and they’re set up for and there in a position It makes sense for them to overpay for someone like Brad Hand.”"
Alex Verdugo was a player who came up in trade rumors last year, as he appeared to fill a need for the Indians as an outfielder who could hit. Verdugo, 23, was blocked from getting regular playing time in the big leagues, but some trades and transactions opened up some room for him to get full-time at-bats.
He has a 1.8 WAR and his batting .297 with a .804 OPS. For what it’s worth, there was a rumor that the Indians weren’t all that enamored with the left-hander.
The Dodgers top prospect, according to MLB.com, is catcher Keibert Ruiz, who is batting .261 with a disappointing .669 OPS at Double-A. He’s good defensively, but isn’t expected to hit the majors until 2020, according to MLB.com. He’s ranked No. 29 on MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list.
LA’s No. 2 prospect should also be intriguing to Tribe fans because he’s someone who can play second base, which is a position the Tribe is currently getting no production from.
This player, Gavin Lux, is batting .304 with an impressive .897 OPS. He’s hit13 home runs for Class AA Tulsa. Like Ruiz, he’s also expected to hit the majors sometime in 2020.
These players are close to being MLB ready, so a deal with the Dodgers help the Indians accomplish what I think their goal is, which is rebuilding without doing a huge sell off while trying to stay competitive.
Verdugo could start in the outfield now. Lux might not be ready until the 2020 All-Star break, but in reality, that’s not that far away.
Olney also said during his interview that he does expect Hand and Trevor Bauer to be moved. Bauer helped his stock with a stellar outing against the Reds after pitching like a hot mess for all of May.
"“There’s going to be teams like the Yankees looking for a starting pitcher and they’re going to get value for him,” Olney said."
Olney’s probably right about Bauer and Hand being moved because with the Indians being in a small market, the organization has to be open to everything.
Meanwhile, it’d be tough losing Hand, especially when this organization tried to sell itself as contenders entering the year. But Olney’s point about reliever volatility is understood. Bullpen arms come and go. When the Indians are ready again, they’ll make another trade to land an elite arm to help out.
They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. They just need to get to the point where the team is a serious World Series contender, and I think most fans realize they’re just not at that level right now.