Let’s Go Tribe writers Chris D. Davies and Matt Schlichting decided to draft a few players who they think would immediately improve the Indians. They ended up with a little bit of overlap in the picks, but seem to generally agree on the areas where the Indians should focus. They’ve each provided a little bit of a write-up to go with the picks to show their reasoning.
We’d love to hear in the comments if you agree with one, both, or neither of them, and if you really think they blew it, don’t hesitate to throw up a FanPost and give us your ideas.
First pick (Matt) - Mychal Givens, RP, Orioles
2018 (23 games): 3.58 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 118 ERA+, 2.43 K/BB, 0.4 bWAR
Career (180 games): 2.86 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 150 ERA+, 3.16 K/BB, 5.2 bWAR
By ERA, it’s true that Givens owns a career-high 3.58 ERA, and is walking 4.55 per nine. The walks are about the only concern that I have. He’s 28-years-old, under team control until 2022, and according to his peripherals, is pitching at least as well as he has in the past, and probably better. He also has a track record of being an excellent option in the late innings, but not so long that we’d be buying the tattered remnants of potential.
His xBA, xSLG, and xWOBA are all at career lows. He’s allowing a career low HR/FB, while his strikeout and batted ball profiles have remained pretty much identical to his last two seasons. We also know that the Orioles need to resume their scrap-it-all-and-rebuild strategy. They’d manage to get a couple of decent prospects for Givens, and maybe one higher ceiling guy. He represents, to me, a solid arm at a reasonable price, and one that the Orioles will ultimately be willing to move even if they’re posturing about it now.
Second Pick (Chris) - Manny Machado, SS (3B?!), Orioles
2018 (54 games): .322/.392/.602, 15 HR, 171 OPS+, 1.9 bWAR
Career (818 games): .282/.333/.484, 153 HR, 119 OPS+, 30 bWAR
I don’t have to tell you about Machado. He’s the complete player, with 21.7 offensive wins and 10.9 defensive wins by Baseball-Reference WAR in his career (for reference, it’s entirely possible he passes Travis Fryman, 34.4, in career bWAR this season). Imagining him in an infield with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez is NSFW. In roughly one season less than Jason Kipnis, the guy he’d displace, Machado has produced about 52% more value (30 vs. 19.7 bWAR). Of course, for a player of his caliber, the cost is going to be high.
Even though he’s a free agent at the end of the year. Peter Angelos has been notoriously stingy with his players, and even if his sons are pushing for more control (and a more intense rebuild) they won’t settle for a bad deal. Plus, every team within sniffing distance of a playoff spot has been linked to Machado. If there’s one positive, it’s that the Orioles have Chance Sisco behind the dish and like him, so maybe they would accept a deal without Francisco Mejia in it. However, Shane Bieber would certainly be part of a deal, as he’s big-league ready (I hope, I guess we’ll see Thursday), but perhaps given the time left on his contract only one top guy goes away in the deal.
Third Pick (Matt) - Blake Treinen, CL, Athletics
2018 (21 games): ERA 1.00, FIP 2.04, ERA+ 410, K/BB 4.13, bWAR 1.2
Career (241 games): ERA 3.00, FIP 3.30, ERA+ 137, K/BB 2.43, bWAR 5.6
If Mychal Givens is the, “We could get this guy for a reasonable-ish price and probably not regret it” bullpen option, then Blake Treinen is “We’d have to give up a couple of prospects that we adore and my god he might blow out his arm at any moment but sweet baby Jesus” bullpen option.
Treinen’s stuff is so spectacular that he is now about 40% of the @PitchingNinja twitter account gif output.
At some point it stops being a sinker and becomes a screwball or a reverse slider. Treinen reached that point last season with the A’s and shows no signs of stopping. We also know that in the past Billy Beane believed closers were absurdly overvalued and sought to move them in order to pick up players he felt would make a larger long term impact. We’re looking at multiple top 10, maybe even top 5 prospects to do it, but then you have this guy, Cody Alllen, and Andrew Miller pitching the last three innings in October. I like the sound of that a lot, thank you. He’s also under team control until 2021, which helps things out immensely when Allen and Miller almost certainly depart after this season.
Just... hope his arm doesn’t explode.
Fourth Pick (Chris) - Kirby Yates, RP, Padres
2018 (20 games): 1.00 ERA, 2.06 FIP, 382 ERA+, 3.83 K/BB, 0.8 bWAR
Career (180 games): 4.39 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 93 ERA+, 3.39 K/BB, 0.7 bWAR
Brad Hand is the dude in the Padres bullpen, but while he’s taken the (earned) accolades, Yates has actually been nearly his equal. This year Yates hasn’t given up a home run and only has two earned runs and 11 hits in 18 innings of work. People often say a bullpen is the easiest thing to fix, and it seems Yates could be an immediate fix for Cleveland. He comes with three more years of arbitration-eligible control, so he may not be the cheapest in a trade, but because his career numbers aren’t that great I doubt the Padres would be able to extract a top guy for him.
He has obviously figured things out in San Diego, so he won’t be cheap, but Yu Chang (who seems to be blocked everywhere long-term) and a recent draft pick may get this done for Cleveland.
Fifth Pick (Matt) - Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS, Athletics
2018 (56 games): .299/.362/.493, 9 HR, 137 OPS+, 2.2 bWAR
Career (1008 games): .263/.334/.413, 90 HR, 104 OPS+, 14.9 bWAR
This would be a much later in the season than now move depending on what Kipnis is doing with his life. At the moment, the Indians’ second baseman finally tiptoed beyond the Mendoza Line. If the Indians could still use a bat, Lowrie will be readily available. His contract ends at the end of this season. He’s a solid glove at second base still, and the fact that he switch-hits adds another way that the Indians can frustrate opponents in the playoffs, where it’s much easier to match-up by handedness in later innings.
The Indians could consider platooning Lowrie and Kipnis at second base, too. Lowrie’s late career revival may seem lucky or suspicious, but the former elite prospect spent much of his career dealing with various injuries, including mono at one point. His numbers don’t show anything to make me suspect that another 4+ WAR season is happening.
Sixth Pick (Chris) - Raisel Iglesias, CP, Reds
2018 (20 games): 2.08 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 195 ERA+, 3.38 K/BB, 8 SV, 0.6 bWAR
Career (138 games): 3.05 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 137 ERA+, 3.44 K/BB, 42 SV, 6.6 bWAR
If Yates is an immediate fix, Iglesias is an immediate strike-fear-in-your-opponents acquisition. No matter where Iglesias has pitched for Cincinnati, he’s been dominant. As a starter, as a swingman, as a reliever — he’s shut down opponents at every turn in his 3+ year career. Besides his counting stats, there are several reasons to love Iglesias: he has a four-pitch mix with speeds varying from an average of 95 to 84 mph, he’s always done what the team has asked him without any complaint (similar to one Miller, Andrew), and he’s got two years after this one left on his contract at just $5.7 million/year.
Of course, this means Iglesias is no bargain buy (especially because of his contract), but I think Amir Garrett’s emergence and Cincy’s generally awful rebuild make him a little more expendable than in the past. Perhaps one of the Tribe’s top prospects plus one or two mid to lower level guys get the job done (e.g., McKenzie and Eric Haase or 1-2 guys not showing up on prospect lists)? Currently he’s sidelined with an injury, but it’s to his non-throwing arm, so it wouldn’t be enough to scare me off a deal.
Seventh Pick (Matt) - Adam Cimber, RP, Padres
2018 (23 games): 3.14 ERA, 1.45 FIP, 121 ERA+, .3 bWAR
Career (23 games): Yes, he’s a rookie.
Cimber is an intriguing submarine arm from the infinite stable of effective relievers that the Padres created. If you don’t believe me, he’s one of TWO submariners in that bullpen. Travis Sawchik ran an interesting piece on fangraphs pointing out how absurdly low his release point is, how hard he is to square up, and that is sinker is a grounder factory.
It turns out that part of his windup is to pretend that he’s shadowboxing as he steps over a doodled-in-the-clay reminder of God’s plan for him and picks a rock on the ground to focus on while kicking up dirt. Will he also be distracted by puppies in the stand, leave games to go fishing, and chase after passing firetrucks? Maybe, but when everything about a pitcher is so unorthodox it’s almost a certainty that he’ll be an effective relief pitcher.
He retains his rookie status and being able to give playoff opponents such an unusual repertoire — his fastball is one of two that actually rises — offer value for today and tomorrow.
Eighth Pick (Chris) - Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
2018 (29 games): .314/.375/.422, 1 HR, 113 OPS+, 0.6 bWAR
Career (2843 games): .287/.340/.481, 463 HR, 117 OPS+, 94.1 bWAR
I wanted Nick Castellanos with my final pick, but he’s under team control for 2 more years and I just cannot envision the Tigers letting the Indians have him for anything. However, my pick is no consolation prize, he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame. Beltre was a bit of a slow starter, but has been the least-talked-about best player for nearly 2 decades now. Since 2003, Beltre has not had a season worth less than 3.2 bWAR, which is just ridiculous, especially considering he has 10 years of more than 4 bWAR over those 15 seasons. There’s a caveat here, and not an insignificant one: Beltre is 39 and currently on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. But he’s aged like a fine wine and, anyway, I’m not expecting Beltre to come to Cleveland and become the team’s third MVP candidate; rather, I expect him to be the upgraded Mike Napoli, the veteran who can contribute and be the (very) veteran clubhouse guy. In that role I imagine he’d have to settle for a little less playing time, but would still likely take more than half of Kipnis’s playing time.
I think it would be something he’d be open to, as in his 21 years in the big leagues he’s somehow never won a World Series. To have a chance with the Tribe (which he surely won’t with the Rangers again), you have to imagine something a little more time than Carlos Beltran gave the Astros last year would be worth pursuing. As for cost, there’s no way the Rangers could expect more than the cost the Tigers or Mets got for JD Martinez or Jay Bruce, respectively, last year, especially considering Beltre is making $18 million this year. But Beltre is absolutely worth it, and him getting a ring in Cleveland would be really, really, really sweet.
Who won? Who’s next? You decide!
That’s the end of our draft. As mentioned earlier, head to the comments to give us your feedback, or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious write up your own fanpost.