The Indians may be more willing to listen to trade scenarios regarding their controllable pitching than they have indicated publicly, according to a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). In particular, they’ve spoken with the Blue Jays regarding righty Carlos Carrasco.
There are other appealing arms under long-term control in Cleveland — Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer most notable among them. But the report indicates that the Indians are most willing to consider a deal involving Carrasco. The 28-year-old carries only a 3.94 ERA this season after last year’s breakout, but his peripherals (10.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 49.0% groundball rate) suggest he’s rather an elite performer. And ERA estimators all value his work this season at a sub-3.00 level.
Expanding Carrasco’s value is the fact that he’s only just started playing under a four-year, $22MM extension inked over the winter. That deal includes two option years (both of which include escalators) that could boost its total value to $48MM. Even at that price, though, it looks to be quite a bargain. And the flexibility at the back end limits the already-reasonable risk.
With the Tigers still debating whether to market David Price and the White Sox still waiting to decide on Jeff Samardzija, the AL Central suddenly seems to hold the key to the starting pitching market. It remains to be seen whether some or all of those players will seriously be marketed, though at least Samardzija seems a good bet to change hands.
Carrasco, though, would be a much more palatable target for Toronto since he comes with plenty of affordable future control. As Passan notes in his report, the Jays have a number of notable young talents that would certainly hold appeal to Cleveland — he mentions Jeff Hoffman, Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Anthony Alford — and it would be much easier to part with one or more for a non-rental.
On today’s MLBTR podcast, Steve Adams and I discussed the possibility of Cleveland moving an asset such as Carrasco — possibly as a means of offloading some of the big salaries owed to players like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. It’s unclear what kind of deal might conceivably be structured between the two clubs, but it’s notable (as Steve and I also covered) that Toronto has significantly more open payroll capacity in the future than they do at present. Taking on some later-in-time money could in theory offer a route to acquiring a controllable arm while limiting the damage to the club’s talent pipeline.