Remember back on November 3, when Buster Olney tweeted this:
Yes, the Indians will listen to trade offers for Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, etc., but two things to remember:— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 3, 2018
1. They aren't trading all of them, and they aren't trading Lindor or Ramirez
2. No matter who they trade, they will enter 2019 as prohibitive favorites in AL Central
If it was a directive straight from the Indians, it sure sounded a lot like a “we give up, but we’re still gonna win the division so let’s just shed some payroll” mindset by the Indians front office. It sent Indians fans into a tizzy, and predictably nothing has come of it yet.
Merritt actually wrote how a Corey Kluber trade would make sense (and also be terrible) days before the rumor officially broke. While he’s right, and it would save the Indians a bunch of money dumping their second-highest paid player, I still don’t think they’ll do it. And the most recent trade rumor floating around makes me feel much more at ease with that theory.
Bob Nightengale brings us the latest news from the front lines of the hot stove:
Teams talking to the Cleveland #Indians say the Indians are much more inclined to trade Trevor Bauer than Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco. Bauer has 2 years of club control left, but the only one of the starters with cost uncertainty. He has two arbitration years left before FA.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 27, 2018
This sounds a lot like a trade partner that got rejected by the Indians spreading some hot gos on social media like a jealous ex than a hard-hitting rumor straight from the Indians.
Both strategies potentially make sense. Trading Corey Kluber to get rid of his $19 million paycheck this year — with the assumption that he might start to decline heading into his age-33 season — isn’t a terrible move. After Buster tweeted his nugget early in the offseason, he also tweeted a bunch of factual, kind-of-depressing stats about the Indians’ payroll and attendance, the TL;DR of which is that the Indians didn’t get that huge of a revenue bump from the World Series. So trading Kluber’s big (but still small) contract isn’t crazy. For that matter, neither is trading away Trevor Bauer, who is going get pretty expensive in a couple years and is heading into his prime, making him a much more valuable trade piece. All depending on what you can get back, of course.
But to flip flop back and forth less in less than a month? All these rumors start with one tweet, shift with another, and we never take a step back to look at how ridiculous it is that they fly in and out so quickly. Pitchfork-worthy one second, a laughingstock the next. Of course the Indians are talking to everybody about trading everybody — it’s November, what else are they going to do? It doesn’t mean a trade is ever even close to being done, or that we should be up in arms over it. At the very least, don’t take any of these tweets as gospel for the Indians’ grand plans for the 2018 and beyond.
Whose to say the most recent teams that had talks with the Indians (then ran the Bob Nightengale) were not in a better position for Bauer over someone like Kluber and Carrasco? Or maybe the Indians liked the players up for grabs of these teams better for Bauer over Kluber and Carrasco. I’m just saying, there are a lot of valid conclusions to jump to before taking the remnants of one or two trade discussions as an offseason plan.
If the Indians are still focused on a World Series in this current window — and by god I hope they are — then they of all people know that you can’t enough starting pitching; they only have to look back at 2016 and see that you can never have enough depth.