Hey friends, I recently published my usual mammoth trade deadline manifesto at Official Guardians Baseball Insider, deciding if I'm going to write 7,000 words, I should probably do so for a subscription site (though those specific articles are free to access!). However, for you my friends here, I'd like to share my personal thoughts because I'm just a guy who loves the Guardians and baseball and while I can do a lot of research and analysis, my opinion is that of someone who has never worked in baseball so seems appropriate for a a FanPost in a community of friends I've grown to know and (mostly) love.
With that said, I think it's obvious that the Guardians HAVE to make a fairly significant trade either this July or this offseason prior to the Rule 5 draft because the 40-man is full of prospects and we have to decide what to do with players like Peyton Battenfield, Will Benson, Will Brennan, Joey Cantillo, Xzavion Curry, Hunter Gaddis, Ethan Hankins, Tim Herrin, Kevin Kelly, Angel Martinez, Nick Mikoljchak, Bo Naylor, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Lenny Torres who are or will be Rule-5 eligible this fall. We just have too much talent and not enough roster spots or positions/roles to put them in - a good problem to have, and a reason to make a trade.
In my opinion, the Guardians' greatest needs are:
1. A good defensive catcher who can hit
2. Additional slugging, especially the right-handed variety
3. Starting pitching - because when you think you have enough, you should get more. The Guardians system is LOADED with starting pitching... we should still consider adding more.
Were I the Guardians GM, here are the three top players I would target, in order of preference, and fallback targets I'd pursue if my preferred options prove unavailable/cost-prohibitive:
1. Sean Murphy, C, Oakland - 27.8 years old, under team control through 2025.
Analysis: Murphy is an elite defender, he's a solid hitter (he's had some bad luck this year, so far, and yet is still around league average) and he's an Ohio kid. For those concerned he blocks Bo Naylor, Naylor is 22 years old, so I don't think he has to come up until the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024, and even then, he can split time with Murphy or you can flip Murphy for prospects. You just can't have too much catching. Time for the Guardians to finally have a good catcher who can hit; they should make Oakland an offer they can't refuse.
Proposed Offer: Gabriel Arias, IF, Joey Cantillo, LHP, and Jhonkensy Noel, 1B/OF for Sean Murphy, C
Backup plans: I like Carson Kelly of Arizona and Danny Jansen of Toronto as potential backup options. Both major league quality backstops who have shown the ability to hit ML pitching - one (Kelly) having an awful season and one (Jansen) having an amazing season. Jansen is recovering from a broken finger, but that wouldn't stop me inquiring. I would mention Jonah Heim and Tyler Stephenson as other excellent catchers (Stephenson dealing with a broken thumb) but I think both are cost-prohibitive to acquire. Outside of these options, I think you look for a guy like Donny Sands who is blocked at Triple-A in his organization but can provide above average offensive production without breaking the bank or blocking Bo.
2. German Marquez, RHP, Colorado - 27.4 years old, signed through 2023 with a club option for 2024
Analysis: It's impossible to predict a trade with the Rockies who make no sense in anything they do... or don't do. But, I've decided to go after Marquez because I'm supremely confident that with a competent organization, he'd drop the new 4-seamer he added this season and go back to being a #1 starter. With Marquez, Bieber and McKenzie, the Guardians are a World Series threat. And, again, it's impossible to have too much pitching.
Proposed Offer: Jose Tena, SS, Will Brennan, OF, and Hunter Gaddis, RHP for German Marquez
Backup plans: I'd be interested in Frankie Montas, RHP, Oakland and Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati, both under control through 2023 and hot commodities. I'd also be interested in Pablo Lopez, RHP, Miami, but he's got some peripherals that concern me. He's under control through 2024. Marlins would probably be VERY interested in Brennan, fwiw.
3. Kyle Lewis, RH RF, Seattle - 26.11 years old, under team control through 2025
Analysis: It's a little sketchy because Lewis is currently recovering from a concussion with no timetable for a return, but assuming that this issue will resolve, he looks exactly like a player Cleveland could use. He's slightly below average according to DRS in RF but slightly above average according to OAA, and he's even held his own in centerfield, so can probably play LF. His value is mostly in SLG where he's put up .457 in 116 ML games, but his career 11% BB-rate helps minimize the effects of his 28.7% K-rate. Seattle is in a good place to trade an outfielder and shore up other needed areas, such as pitching and third-base, and DiPoto is always in the mood for a deal.
Proposed Offer: Nolan Jones, 3B, and Nick Mikolahjchak, RHP for Kyle Lewis.
Backup plans: Bryan Reynolds, RH OF, Pittsburgh is, of course, the dream, and I'd give up Valera to get him because he is what we hope Valera will be - a 5-win outfielder. But, I don't think the Guardians will get in that game, personally. Brent Rooker, RH OF, SD, Tyler O'Neill, RH OF, St. L (out with a hamstring), Anthony Santander, RH OF, Baltimore, Jo Adell, RH OF, LAA, Corey Julks, RH OF, Houston are all outfielders with team control I'd be interested in looking at, all with varying levels of significant slugging potential. O'Neill has the most proven ML value, of course, but that hamstring injury makes that a tricky proposition.
I have chosen to try to form three deals that could all be made, but, in reality, making even one of these deals would be pretty astounding. I do think these deals could, theoretically, be made without touching Valera, Rocchio, Espino, Williams or Naylor, but it's also possible these teams say, "Hey, without one of those five, no deal" and then it's back to the drawing board. I think each trade hurts the Guardians and the trade partner, so I think they're within the realm of possibility, but, as always, it all relies on how these organizations internally value the prospects I've suggested and we don't know that for sure. I'd be willing to consider trading one of those top 5 guys for Murphy or POSSIBLY Marquez, but not 2 of them.