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Cleveland Indians Trade Deadline: Decision time for the Indians

With the Matt Garza deal done, we can now see what it will take to land a good starting pitcher. Should the Indians be trying to land an impact player, should they just try to tinker, or perhaps should they just stand pat this trade deadline?

Matt Garza is now a Ranger
Matt Garza is now a Ranger
Ezra Shaw

Yesterday the Texas Rangers finally acquired Matt Garza, and they paid a steep price for him:

The Rangers did so by trading third baseman Mike Olt, pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and at least one player to be named to the Cubs for Garza. Righty Neil Ramirez could be the player to be named if he has no further issues with his right shoulder. Alternatively, the Cubs could also choose two other players.

If Ramirez is the PTBNL, the Rangers just traded their #2, #5 #14, and #23 prospects for perhaps 13 starts from Matt Garza. And the Rangers have one of the better farm systems in the game. The equivalent Indians trade would have been Lonnie Chisenhall, Danny Salazar, Dylan Baker, and Kieran Lovegrove, though they might have gotten the deal done without giving up a fourth player (Lovegrove) because I think Chisenhall and Salazar are much more valuable right now than Olt and Grimm.

But that's only part of the equation here. The Rangers are and have been one of baseball's best clubs, and are neck-and-neck with the A's to win the AL West. Because of the new playoff structure, you don't want to win 92-93 games but finish a game or two out of first place, as that would mean having to play the Wild Card game, as the Rangers found out all too well last season. Although Texas started the season with a deep rotation, a rash of injuries has made it the team's weak point. So they grabbed what will probably be the best starter on the trade market in preparation for their playoff run.

The Rangers have been contenders from the day the season began, so making a deal like this isn't that tough a call. But the Indians have a much more difficult decision to make. I think all of us at heart know that the Indians don't have the most talent in the AL Central, even though they're only 2.5 games behind the Tigers. In many ways the Indians have overachieved to get to this point, especially in the rotation. There's no closing window or chance to win it all that would necessitate an all-in trade like the Rangers just made or the Brewers made when they acquired Zack Greinke. The last week has taken that possibility out of my mind, especially for a rental like Garza.

That doesn't preclude a deal, though, especially one that would bring the Indians a player they could control through at least 2014. That's the thinking that led to the acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez, and while that deal hasn't really worked out for either the Indians or the Rockies, I don't think that will prevent the Indians from going after a player with multiple years left on his contract.

There's also the possibility that the Indians would be content to just make a minor acquisition or two, especially to help the bullpen, and leave the rest of the 25-man roster intact. I'm fairly certain that the Indians are looking closely at every decent left-handed reliever that could possibly be available, and they should be able to get someone better than Rich Hill without giving up too much.

The third option is to sell, which isn't happening for several reasons. One, that would destroy any good will built up over the past 9 months, and two, the Indians don't have anyone they really need to trade now. Yeah, they'll certainly see what Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez would fetch on the trade market this winter, but as we saw last winter, you can be buyers and sellers at the same time in the offseason.

Or the Indians could just do nothing, which is the easiest thing to do. They'll have some major roster decisions to make this winter, but again, nothing is really pressing the Indians to offload contracts right now.

So, what's your opinion? What should the Indians' strategy be this deadline?

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