The Cleveland Indians are reportedly interested in Oakland Athletics infielder Brett Lawrie, according to "industry sources" via the San Francisco Chronicle. Cleveland has several needs heading into the offseason, and Lawrie could fill a vital one at third base.
Currently, the Indians third base situation is some kind of combination between Giovanny Urshela, Chris Johnson, or Jose Ramirez. However, Urshela’s bat did not impress in 2015 (although he was injured), Johnson is only on the team because the Tribe needed an out for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, and Jose Ramirez is more valuable playing multiple positions in a utility role than being stuck at third base. The corner outfield spot is grim.
With Lawrie, the Indians could acquire a young third baseman who can field the position and has proven to have a league-average bat. Lawrie is Arbitration 3 eligible in 2017, meaning the Indians would only have him for one full year, before potentially trading him at the 2017 deadline if they cannot strike a long-term deal. Plate approach was an issue for Lawrie in 2015--he struck out in 23.9 percent of his at-bats, compared to only a 4.7 percent walk rate. In previous years, his highest strikeout total was 18.1 percent in his rookie season, so it appears to be a one-year issue that the Indians would have to hope does not repeat.
The A’s are reportedly interested in pitching and pitching only, so they make a perfect trade partner for the Indians. Brett Lawrie is not worth one Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar, obviously, but the A’s could seek one of the "second tier" starting pitchers that the Indians seem more willing to part with. Trevor Bauer is a possibility, if Oakland is willing to add more to sweeten the deal, or someone like Cody Anderson, Josh Tomlin, or T.J. House could also be on the table.
Along with the Indians, the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and New York Yankees are also interested in Lawrie so the Tribe could find themselves in a bidding war. If the cost gets too high, there is no shame in sitting out a Lawrie trade.