Among teams that currently sit on the fence between buying and selling, the Indians certainly have among the most difficult choices. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince recently looked at Cleveland's dilemma. (He also names the Phillies, Royals, Padres, and Rockies as 50/50 clubs.) Though the Indians made several prominent free agent acquisitions this year, Castrovince says, they did not do so with an eye solely on 2013. On the other hand, with the team facing several needs and sitting just 3.5 back of the division-leading Tigers despite a four-game skid, now may be the time to strike. Here are a few links addressing that issue:
- While starting pitching may be an obvious place the Tribe could look to make an addition, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal notes that there are many teams in on that market. Moreover, the options are relatively scarce. Ricky Nolasco is now taken, Cliff Lee would cost an immense sum in prospects and dollars, and Matt Garza is a hot commodity who hits free agency next year. With Jake Peavy injured, the only other prominent option may be Bud Norris, and Ocker opines that the team may be better off relying on his internal choices rather than reaching to pick up the steady-but-unspectacular Astros righty, who should command more in trade value than Nolasco given his younger age and team control.
- Looking at available bats and relievers, Ocker again sees few options. He mentions Twins first baseman Justin Morneau as a possibility, but it is not clear that the pending free agent will be dealt, and if so whether he'll be worth what Minnesota will demand for a core player. Ocker ultimately concludes that GM Chris Antonetti may be best served by looking to shore up the back end of the bullpen.
- Likewise, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tackled the possibility of the Indians shopping for a starter. Ticking through the above-noted suspects (including Yovani Gallardo, whose no-trade list includes Cleveland), Hoynes offers some thoughts on what it may take to get Norris. He suggests that the Indians might need to give up righty Danny Salazar, outfielder Tyler Naquin, and one or more additional well-regarded prospects. While it's not clear that Norris would require quite that much in return, Hoynes implies that the price would be prohibitive. (For reference, Baseball America called Salazar the club's sixth-best prospect at the start of the year, with Naquin third on the list.)
- Hoynes ultimately says that the most likely route the Indians could take is to add a left-handed bullpen piece. With players like Matt Thornton (White Sox), Mike Gonzalez (Brewers), and Oliver Perez and Charlie Furbush of the Mariners potentially available, the club could look to improve its middling success at retiring opposing lefties.
- Taking questions from readers, Hoynes offers that the Indians are unlikely to find adequate value were the team to try and acquire pitching in exchange for young, cost-controlled catcher Carlos Santana. He also rejects the concept of an attempt to nab the aforementioned Lee by dangling top prospect Francisco Lindor, especially given Lee's enormous salary. Hoynes does note that the organization has impressive middle infield depth at its lower level, and could be more flexible in utilizing such prospects in a deal.