Cleveland Indians Aggressive Ahead Of Winter Meetings

by Gordon Watkin | Posted on Saturday, November 21st, 2015
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Danny Salazar

Danny Salazar is on the trade block. Of course to majority of baseball fans this is hardly new information, however Cleveland may also have a few other significant names in play. Names such as Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin have also circulated through insiders’ twitter feeds for the past ten days. If the plentiful rumours were to contain merit, what type of deal would the Tribe need to pull the trigger? There are a few different directions the Indians may go, but the partner in the trade will be catalytic as to what approach that may be.

The most persistent rumour that lingers is Danny Salazar being shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Yasiel Puig. While the notoriety surrounding Puig makes this trade at quick glance lopsided, basic statistics and testimonies from around the league would advocate a much different level of fairness. Salazar is coming off a season where he experienced tremendous growth as a pitcher, finding consistency in his game and frequently giving the Indians a quality start. The emergence of his two-seam fastball in conjunction with his already plus changeup and plus slider, allowed Salazar to retire batters with finesse, power or control. Furthermore, Salazar pitched an entire season healthy, following a cloudy prior two seasons due to elbow issues. At 26, and on a very reasonable contract, Salazar would give the Dodgers a legitimate middle of the rotation starter with upside. Given the improved offence the Dodgers present over that of Cleveland, it would not be surprising to see Salazar win between 15 and 18 games with over 180 strikeouts. It also would not be surprising if his earned run average sat below 3.5; improving upon his numbers in 2015.

Puig to Cleveland is a very interesting and tantalizing situation. Puig is a 5 tool talent who shows an ability to get on base, hit for extra bases and shows off a tremendous throwing arm. It are his antics, the egotistical behaviour and lack of durability that have plagued Puig from becoming the next great Cuban superstar. His lack of discipline, and immature outbursts have influenced a gradual decline in majority of Puig’s hitting statistical categories. Leaving the bright lights of Los Angeles for the breezy Erie shore in Cleveland may give Puig the privacy needed to allow him to hone his craft and see his full potential through. Puig’s hypothetical insertion to the Indians lineup along with the likes of Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and rookie of the year runner up Francisco Lindor would provide Cleveland with the big bat they desperately need, and would have addressed the issue by trading away from positional surplus. Salazar has electric stuff, and will be a dominant pitcher for a long time should injuries lurk elsewhere, but due to the plethora of young pitching talent in the Indians organization, the deal makes way too much sense for both sides especially given Greinke‘s incumbent departure from Los Angeles.

Another rumour is Salazar to the Yankees in exchange for Brett Gardner and a large quantity of cash. Don’t get me wrong, Brett Gardner is a fantastic player and a consummate professional who plays the game with speed and smarts, but at this point is a very expensive, quickly deteriorating outfielder. Even if the Yankees were to pay more than half of his salary, trading a 26 year old high-upside starting pitcher to a team within the American League, in exchange for an aging player whose tools are beginning to wear would be a crime. Not only would Salazar than be pitching in New York, but the Yankees would be getting off the hook (somewhat) of Gardner’s expensive contract. This situation is disadvantageous for the Tribe and I pray GM Chris Antonetti does not move an asset of Salazar’s caliber in exchange for an expensive aging player.

The last rumour I am interested in addressing is Salazar to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Kevin Pillar/Ben Revere. Unlike the Yankee trade, either one of these players possess the defensive range and speed to defend the large outfield in Cleveland exceptionally well. Both players are respectable offensively, with Revere being a fiend on the base paths. Preferably, Pillar is the player the Indians covet given his low annual salary, and his defensive prowess along with an emerging ability to make solid contact.

The final rumour is one I am going to start. This trade along with the Puig rumour to me make most sense for both parties involved:

Cleveland sends Carlos Carrasco/Danny Salazar to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Jorge Soler.

This deal would give the Indians the big bat to compliment existing pieces in their lineup, along with the player being young and under team control for the extended future. Soler has tremendous athletic upside, and uses his long arms and legs to generate a long but quick stroke. Soler could easily become a middle of the order bat capable of 25-30 home runs with defensive upside. Salazar brings a similar repertoire to that of a pitcher the Cubs traded away for Matt Garza; Chris Archer. Behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta (and maybe Greinke now??), the Cubs lack respectable quality in the backend of their rotation. Kyle Kendrick is a solid major league arm, but the fatigue he experienced last season turned into an ugly stretch of games for the Cubs, and if it were not for Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber‘s coming out parties, who knows how the Cubs would have finished the season. Salazar stabilizes that rotation, and if Greinke signs there as many insiders are reporting he will, the Cubs become the World Series favourite and possess in my opinion the best rotation in Major League Baseball.

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Gordon Watkin
About the Author

Gordon is a Sport Management graduate from Brock University. He has a background playing professional soccer, but is an avid sports fan particularly of the Cleveland Indians. Follow Gordon on Twitter @GordonWatkin.

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