The last time I proposed the Cleveland Indians trade for Yasiel Puig, it was mostly based on pure speculation. The Indians needed an outfielder, and the Los Angeles Dodgers just seemed at the end of their rope with Yasiel Puig, but there was nothing really linking the two teams together as trade partners. Now that we are in the midst of Hot Stove season, the Indians need an outfielder even more than they did at the trade deadline, the Dodgers need a starting pitcher, and the two teams have already reportedly started talking. There could be a great deal here somewhere.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi recently linked the Indians to the Dodgers, among others, in trade talks for a new outfielder. With the outfield already being paper-thin and the possibility that Michael Brantley could be ineffective until the All-Star break looming, the Tribe are obviously turning to big teams that need pitching for help. In particular, Morosi suggests the Indians could try to trade for Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, or even Scott Van Slyke. Someone like Puig or to a lesser extend Ethier are the kind of trades that should be made first—get the biggest piece out of our biggest piece. Scott Van Slyke would be a great second option if the Indians either go elsewhere for their outfield needs first, or even throw him in with Yasiel or Ethier in exchange for one of the Indians pitchers.
So what could a trade between these two teams look like? A few even deals come to mind immediately.
Trade Corey Kluber
- Indians receive Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke
- Dodgers receive Corey Kluber, Rob Kaminsky
This seems steep from the Dodgers side, but they may just be desperate enough to grab Kluber as they are to get rid of Puig. Remember, the 24-year-old outfielder is coming off of the worst season of his career thanks to a lingering hamstring injury. Meanwhile, the Dodgers would be receiving a Cy Young winner coming off of another great year in Kluber.
Los Angeles obviously has some leeway here in saying that Puig is only 24, put up amazing numbers in his first two seasons, and the Indians are desperate for an outfielder. If they ask for another small piece to make the deal work, I do not think Mike Chernoff and Chris Antonetti kill the deal over it. Rob Kaminsky is the No. 1 pitcher in the Indians farm system, and he could make an appearance as soon as 2017. Dodgers President, Andrew Friedman, understands the importance of bringing up your own pitching, and he could see the value in getting Kluber for the short term and Kaminsky for the long term. This is essentially a swap of Kluber for Puig and Kaminsky for Van Slyke—both of which are fairly even. The Indians instantly fix their outfield, and the Dodgers shore up their pitching for the next few years.
Trade Carlos Carrasco
- Indians receive Yasiel Puig
- Dodgers receive Carlos Carrasco, Justus Sheffield
I said in my Boston Red Sox trade proposal that Carrasco and Mookie Betts would work as a one-to-one deal and I believe the same applies for Yasiel Puig. However, I would not be against the Dodgers demanding a lower-level pitching prospect in addition to Carrasco. Someone like Justus Sheffield or Adam Plutko just as extra assurance for their future pitching. The Dodgers still hold a lot of leverage over the Indians with Puig’s age, but Carrasco should be enough of a dominant pitcher for the Indians to talk Puig’s price down a bit.
Trade Trevor Bauer
- Indians receive Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke, cash
- Dodgers receive Trevor Bauer
This is simply a "you take our risk and we’ll take yours" trade. Trevor Bauer is still a mystery if he will ever live up to his potential, but Andre Ethier could fall off a cliff at any moment and Scott Van Slyke is as much of a risk as Bauer. If Bauer lives up to his potential, the Dodgers could even come out on top of this deal—they would have their star pitcher (or at worst No. 2 pitcher) through 2020 at the very least. This would also clear out their outfield logjam in one fell swoop.
On the Indians side, they instantly get Van Slyke, who has played a mix of every outfield position in his career, and Andre Ethier could allow the Indians to shift Lonnie Chisenhall back to third base if Ethier’s defense holds up, or at the very least be a great designated hitter. Ethier comes with a big price tag ($16 million in 2016, $18 million in 2017, $17.5 million in 2018), so the Dodgers would also be asked to kick in some cash considerations. Maybe even pay Ethier’s entire 2016 contract so the Indians can still sign another player to a short-term deal and go for it all this season.
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Whatever trade the Indians make, if they make one, it is looking more and more like one of the big three-and-a-half pitchers could be dealt. I would be happy to see Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar, and Bauer all starting come April, but I'd be even happier to see an effective outfield.