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Guardians trade Aaron Civale to Rays in exchange for Kyle Manzardo

Manzardo is one of the Rays’ top prospects

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Civale has made his final start in Cleveland.

Jeff Passan is reporting that the Guardians are shipping the right-handed starting pitcher to Tampa Bay in exchange for first baseman Kyle Manzardo, the Rays’ No. 4 prospect.

Since making his big league debut in 2019, Civale has been on and off the injured list each of the last three seasons, most recently for a left oblique strain. But he is coming off a spectacular month of July, during which he made six starts and recorded a 1.45 ERA and 3.01 FIP through 37.1 innings. So the Guardians’ front office likely believed they were selling him at peak value. In addition to Civale bolstering Tampa Bays’ starting rotation during the stretch run the rest of this season, he is under team control through the next two years.

Trading Civale effectively nukes the Cleveland starting rotation the rest of the season, which now currently amounts to three rookies and the shadow of Noah Syndergaard. All three rookie starting pitchers will likely see their innings capped come September, at which point the Guardians hope to have some combination of Shane Bieber (elbow), Triston McKenzie (elbow), and Cal Quantrill (shoulder) back from the injured list to help ease the rookies’ workloads.

The 23-year-old Manzardo is the Rays’ No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. After a torrid run through the lower levels of the Rays’ farm system, he made his Triple-A debut this season with the Durham Bulls. Manzardo is currently on the 7-day injured list dealing shoulder issues that have likely impacted his performance at the plate. Through 313 plate appearances with the Bulls this season, he is slashing .238/.342/.442 with 93 wRC+.

Selected in the second round of the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, Manzardo made his full-season debut in 2022, hitting .327/.426/.617 between High-A and Double-A.

With Josh Naylor under contract through 2025 and Josh Bell possibly returning next season due to his player option, it’s an open question when we can expect to see Manzardo in Cleveland.