ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote up a lengthy column forecasting who could be on the move ahead of the 2022 MLB trade deadline, and while there was nothing earth shattering to consider regarding the Cleveland Guardians, there were a couple of nuggets.
Passan lists (subscription required) some starting pitchers likely to be moved, but didn’t have Shane Bieber on the list. As for that list–there isn’t an ace, or even a true No. 2 hurler available.
So how’s Bieber involved? Passan named him later on as a potential “deadline rocker.” The only other two starters included in that group were Aaron Nola and Kyle Hendricks.
Despite floating Bieber’s name, he doesn’t see the 2020 Cy Young Award winner going anywhere.
"“Bieber probably isn’t going anywhere, but he might be out of Cleveland’s price range soon, and the Guardians do have pitching depth (Cal Quantrill?) from which to trade.”"
As always with the Guardians, though, follow the money, and as Passan noted, Bieber’s soon to get really, really expensive. He’s earning $6 million this season in his first year of arbitration. He’ll get a raise in 2023 and again in his final year in 2024.
Cleveland Guardians have tried to extend Bieber
The Guardians have tried to extend him, but to no avail. Bieber’s still Cleveland’s best pitcher, but it’s worth remembering he’s coming off a season in which he was injured and the velocity on his fastball still isn’t what it used to be.
That has to be a major red flag for the always fiscally conservative Guardians. Heck, apply it to any pitcher. To give that much money to someone who pitches once every five days is a huge risk. Look at the Mets and Max Scherzer. The difference between New York and Cleveland, of course, is that a team like the Mets can outspend their mistakes.
As for Quantrill, he’s going to get more expensive, too. He’s earning $2.5 million this season, and has three years of arbitration left. He’s the one I’d be trying to lock down to an extension as it looks like the ship has sailed on Bieber. We saw it with Franciscon Lindor. Waiting to deal him with only one year left severely limits what the Guards can get it return.
If the Guards moved Bieber, they should be able to get a hefty prospect haul and the rotation needs replenished. No one is ready to take on the ace role, but Triston McKenzie and Quantrill look like front-of-the-rotation figures. Zach Plesac is at worst, a No. 3, while Aaron Civale really needs to figure things out.
There are several pitchers almost ready to step into the rotation full-time (Konnor Pilkington, Peyton Battenfield), while No. 1 prospect Daniel Espino is probably still a season-and-a-half away.
Additionally, things are not settled in the outfield. Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez have shown promise, but there’s still lots to learn about both players.
Dealing Bieber? I hate writing it, but unless he sings the team friendly deal like Jose Ramirez did–and nobody does–his next contract will come with another team. If the Guards get an offer, and they probably will get calls, I wouldn’t be surprised by a trade.