You chose to make a trade, but who are you going to trade?
All offseason the Tribe has been rumored to be exploring deals for Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. None of the proposals, however, have met the team’s demands.
Kluber, 32, has finished top 10 in Cy Young voting each of the last five seasons, including two wins. The Indians owe him $17 million for 2019 and have options (with $1 million buyouts each year) of $17.5 and $18 for 2020 and ‘21, respectively, with escalators in the contract that could increase his total cost.
Bauer, 28, might have been the Cy Young winner last year if not for a comebacker that sent him to the disabled list. Prior to his big step forward in 2018, however, he was inconsistent, and in the past he has quarrelled with management and displayed some not-so-nice tendencies on social media. He is under control for two more years and projected to make $11.6 million in 2019 (https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/mlb-arbitration-salaries-2019.html) and likely get another raise for 2020.
Because of the extra year of control and lack of controversy, teams are more willing to discuss a deal for Kluber. Some rebuilding teams are also interested in the Indians upper-level talent, though the Indians are rather thin at the top, with just two top-100 prospects according to MLB.com.
Here are the best deals put forward:
Kluber to Los Angeles for Alex Verdugo, Will Smith, and JT Chargois. This would give you an immediate impact outfielder and reliever as well as upper-level minor league catching depth, but though Verdugo has a good prospect profile, his ability at the highest level is unproven. Likewise, Chargois strengthens the bullpen, but he is a middle-innings option and has struggled to limit walks.
Triston McKenzie and Yu Chang to Cincinnati for Scooter Gennett and Amir Garrett. This gives you a consistently above-average offensive second baseman, allowing you to move Jason Kipnis to the outfield full-time, and a promising back-end reliever under control for five more seasons. The cost is steep, however, as top prospect McKenzie could flourish and be a lynchpin in the Reds rotation for many years, and Chang removes quality middle infield depth from this year’s roster.
So, what do you do: