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Trade Everyone! - The Starters

an epic survey in six parts
1 The Starters by Ryan
2 The Infield by Jay
3 Wait. What? by Andrew (afh4)
4 The Prospects by Adam (APV)
5 The Outfield + Pronk by Ryan
6 The End by Jay

It is time to bring back everyone's favorite bit of cathartic therapy. Two years ago, the Indians were so disappointing that a lot of us wanted to just blow up the whole thing and start over. Yeah, it didn't make a lot of sense, but it made us feel better.

Well, the time has come to dig up this irrational concept again. And where better to direct the wrecking ball first to than the rotation?

(For contract details, see Cot's Contracts' Indians page )

C.C. Sabathia

2008 Salary: $9.0M

Signed Through: 2008

Controlled Through: 2008

PRO: Most of the contenders' General Managers would be willing to crawl over two miles of broken glass while having Barney the Dinosaur piped directly into their temporal lobes just to have Mark Shapiro listen to their proposal for Sabathia. For those with deep pockets, they'd have 4-5 months to try to get Sabathia to sign an extension, and for any team, they'd add one of the best pitchers in baseball to their rotation. So no prospect would be off-limits to the Indians, and even players normally not even talked about would at least come into the conversation.

PRO: The Indians aren't going to keep Sabathia past this season, and the major reason didn't trade him was because they thought they would contend again. So if we remove that little impediment, why wouldn't you trade the best pending free agent in baseball?

PRO: Even if a tiny part of you thinks that Sabathia would re-sign with the Indians, and if the Indians found room on their payroll, wouldn't a Santana-like deal be too much a risk to take for team that's already sunk a lot of coin into extensions for Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook?

CON: There's still a chance albeit a tiny one, to keep CC around, and most fans wouldn't look too kindly on the Indians punting on Sabathia this soon.

CON: As bad as the Indians have played, they're only 4.5 games back in the division race.

Cliff Lee

2008 Salary: $3.75M

Signed Through: 2009

Controlled Through: 2010 (Team Option)

PRO: Perceived value probably won't get any higher after a magical run to start the season.

PRO: Has a ridiculously team-friendly contract, so any team not named the Marlins would be in the running for him, driving up the asking price.

PRO: Recent history has been mediocre to terrible, so now may be the time to sell high.

CON: Has a very reasonable contract, and the Indians are probably losing two of their starters to free agency after the season.

CON: Why trade him now just when he's finally figured things out? He's had no history of arm problems, and has always had pretty good stuff.

Fausto Carmona

2008 Salary: $500K

Signed Through: 2011

Controlled Through: 2014 (Team Options)

PRO: Did I say Cliff Lee's contract was ridiculously team-friendly? Whoever trades for Carmona could have another six dominant seasons without having to negotiate a thing with Carmona's agent. And while a team willing to give up value enough to for that pitcher/contract combination may not exist, it only takes one GM and one moment of insanity to give the Indians an entire farm system.

CON: OK, back to reality. Carmona's got the best sinker in baseball, a great attitude, and he's just 24 years old. And did I mention the contract?

CON: There is no package of players out there that could get the Indians full value for Carmona and his contract.

Jake Westbrook

2008 Salary: $10M

Signed Through: 2010

Controlled Through: 2010

PRO: It may sound like a broken record, but even at a quasi-market salary, Westbrook's contract is very friendly. The remaining length of the contract is just about perfect for a trading club; there's only two years left, so the risk isn't that great, but you'd still have two years until he could become a free agent. 

PRO: Westbrook's now been on the DL for two straight seasons, and he's probably at his peak right now. Those two years left on his contract may be for at best a slowly declining and injury-prone pitcher with a low strikeout rate to begin with.

CON: Westbrook has been a very reliable innings-eater for five seasons now, and he just signed an extension that was a bit below market-value. And he likes it in Cleveland, something that hasn't been a commonplace happening in recent years.

CON: Other teams may not think Westbrook is that good, and those are the GMs you want to be talking to.

Paul Byrd

2008 Salary: $7.5M

Signed Through: 2008

Controlled Through: 2008

PRO: Even if the Indians get back into the race, they'd have to think of Byrd as a nice trading chip. Even if they don't bring back Sabathia, the Indians probably aren't going to make a huge fuss of re-signing Byrd, at least not at what the free market will dictate.

PRO: At this stage in his career, Byrd is living off preparation and pinpoint control. There's not a whole lot separating Byrd from a starting spot and being out of baseball. And the longer time frame the Indians begin to think in, the more risk keeping Byrd around brings.

PRO: With Byrd being linked to the PED scandal, keeping him would be a bad example to the children of America. And no amount of plush hot dog giveaways would overcome the stain of devastation the children of Northeast Ohio would have burned upon their minds if the Indians would even think about bringing Byrd back.

CON: He's one of the best 5th starters in baseball.

CON: Now that Carmona is on the DL, the Indians still need him in the rotation.

Aaron Laffey

2008 Salary: $393K

Signed Through: 2008

Controlled Through: 2013 (assuming he stays in the majors from now on)

PRO: Young left-handed ground-ball machine that's had some success but still with less than a year of service time? This time even the Marlins are interested. He may not be worth Garret Atkins, but then again, who is?

PRO: As with any young player, will he survive the first wave of adjustments teams will make to him? Perhaps once hitters stop trying to pull his sinkers, he'll quickly become a lot less effective.

CON: Even if the Indians would undergo a 2002-style rebuild, he's the type of player the Indians would be trying to stockpile.

In General: The Indians are facing the loss of both Byrd and Sabathia, so those two would definitely be on the table if the Indians fall out of the race. If the Indians get some semblance of an offense and if they aren't down 10 games by the All-Star Break, they'll hold on to Sabathia, though there could a couple scenarios where they'd deal Byrd,.

And because Sabathia and Byrd probably won't be here next year, the other four guys mentioned above won't likely be traded. The Indians don't like to use free agency to fill holes, and especially don't like filling a rotation hole with a free agent.