Phillies trade rumors: Should they be in market for Indians starters?
The Cleveland Indians are rumored to be willing to deal one of their top-end starters. Should the Phillies be on the phone to make a trade?
While the starting rotation was a strength for the Phillies in 2018, they could stand to add another strong arm to bolster it for the 2019 season. The free agency market has some strong names on it, but there could also be some on the trade market, potentially from the Cleveland Indians.
Buster Olney of ESPN reported previously that the Indians are willing to listen to offers for some of their veteran players, including starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Olney stated that cost-controlled players like Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are off-limits.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com followed this up Tuesday with a list of five teams who could be in the market for Kluber, Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer. These teams were the Yankees, Reds, Dodgers, Cubs, and Astros. All of these teams have valid reasons to pursue Cleveland’s starters; should Philadelphia be among them.
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The main reason for wanting to trade these players, per Olney and Castrovince, are the rising costs of these starters coupled with potentially decreasing revenues. Starting pitcher is a position of strength they can deal from to bolster other needs on the team.
Kluber is owed $52.5 million over the next three seasons if his 2020 and 2021 club options are picked up. Carrasco is owed $19.25 million in the next two years including his 2020 option. Bauer has two years of arbitration left and is projected to make $11.6 million next year according to MLB Trade Rumors. These salaries should all be well within reason for Philadelphia to pick up if they so choose, even if they make a big free-agent signing.
Kluber, Bauer, and Carrasco are all coming off strong seasons for the Tribe. Kluber was an All-Star and is a finalist for the American League Cy Young. Bauer was also an All-Star for the first time in his career with a 2.21 ERA and league-best 2.44 fielding-independent pitching. Carrasco was also effective with a 3.38 ERA in 32 appearances.
Considering the caliber of pitcher all three of them are, they will all command a significant return in a potential trade. Kluber would almost certainly require top prospect Sixto Sanchez plus a few others given his value compared to his salary. Carrasco also has a strong track record of success with an ERA around 3.30 in each of the last three seasons, commanding a significant return as well.
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The wild card of the group is Bauer. Up until this year, he never had an ERA below four. This was a breakout season for him as his ERA was almost half of what it was last year. Teams will be forced to gamble on whether this year is the new norm or an outlier. This could decrease the kind of return he would merit, which benefits the Phils.
Any of these three would slide into the top half of the rotation alongside Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.
This would force one of Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, or Jerad Eickhoff out of the rotation, but Cleveland’s starters all offer significant upgrades over them.
While Philadelphia was not mentioned as a potential suitor for the Indians top starters, given the kind of boost any of these three could give to the rotation, they should inquire about a potential trade.