The Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants were reportedly in talks for a trade involving pitcher Carlos Carrasco, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Nothing came of it, and the return for the Indians looked like a starting point more than anything, so the talks probably did not go far. However, it does tell us a couple of interesting things about how the Indians are approaching the trade market and their surplus of pitchers.
When David Price signed a massive 7-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, it reminded the baseball world just how valuable good, cost-controlled pitching is. The Indians, as we know, have three such pitchers in Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco. The latter of the three seems like the closest to being potentially traded for an upgraded bat in the lineup, despite the front office saying several times that they either not interested in trading one of their ‘big three’ starting pitchers, or it would take a lot in return.
According to Buster Olney, in these particular trade talks with the Giants the Indians were asking for Brandon Belt and Joe Panik. We have no idea if the trades started with these pieces, or if this was after some haggling one way or the other, but it would have been an odd trade for the Cleveland. In return for Carrasco, they would get Belt, a first baseman who has been inconsistent in his career but on the upswing in his last three seasons, and Panik, a career second baseman. If the Indians were asking for Belt, it could point to them losing faith in Carlos Santana’s play at first base, perhaps he would have moved to designated hitter to make room for Belt at first, who is not a much better fielder anyway. Panik has not played anything other than second base in his career, but he could make the slide to third base, unless the Indians wanted to get crazy and throw Kipnis in the outfield.
Either way, the fact that these talks happened at least proves that the Indians have not shut the door on trading Cookie, as much as many people would like that to be the case. It also shows that the Indians are looking to trade their cost-controlled pitching for young, cost-controlled hitting instead of a veteran in the twilight of his career. I have been vocally in favor of the Indians trading one of their pitchers for a big offensive upgrade, but I do not know that a first baseman and second baseman are the kind of haul they should be looking for.