The Indians’ rotation has come up in trade rumors over the past month, as Cleveland looks to manage a roster with multiple holes and a crowded payroll that is already at franchise-record levels. However, while Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have been speculative candidates to be moved, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that teams who’ve spoken to the Indians get the sense that Cleveland is more amenable to trading right-hander Trevor Bauer. Kluber is controlled through 2021, while Carrasco is locked into a club-friendly deal through the 2020 season. Bauer, though, is arbitration-eligible for another two seasons. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him to earn $11.6MM in 2019 — a projection he explored at greater length earlier today. If the Indians are to move a starter, there’s some sense behind making it the one of their “big three” who has the shortest amount of team control and least cost certainty, though there’s still no indication that the team is aggressively shopping any of its starters. The ask on Bauer would figure to be huge — likely including pre-arbitration, MLB-ready help — given Bauer’s 2.21 ERA, 11.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.46 HR/9 and 44.5 percent grounder rate in 175 1/3 innings in 2018.
Some more notes on the trade and free-agent markets…
- Mike Moustakas is “on the radar” for the Cardinals as they look for a corner infield bat, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman. While Cards didn’t show much in the way of interest last winter, the absence of draft-pick compensation being attached to Moustakas is an important distinction that has them at least exploring the possibility this time around. Meanwhile, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the Cards “made a competitive bid” for Josh Donaldson before the 32-year-old signed a one-year, $23MM contract with the Braves. There were similar reports about the Cardinals’ efforts to sign Jason Heyward and David Price, and the Cardinals also came up shy in their pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton last year when the slugger wouldn’t waive his no-trade protection to approve a deal to St. Louis. Of course, Moustakas is not likely to generate the level of market interest that those players did.
- There has been quite a lot of chatter regarding Mariners infielder Robinson Cano since it emerged recently that the club would like to find a way to dump his contract, though it’s far from evident whether there’s a particularly realistic match to be found. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand says that some feel the M’s will find a taker, though he later added that Cano hasn’t yet been approached by the team about waiving his no-trade rights or about giving a list of destinations as to which he’d be amenable. (Twitter links.) One key factor in the Cano situation is the notion of the Mariners dealing star closer Edwin Diaz as a means of offloading the money owed Cano. There is indeed some willingness to do so on the part of the Seattle organization, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But it seems clubs with interest in Diaz aren’t necessarily amenable to taking on enough of the $120MM still owed to Cano to make it work. Sherman lists the Mets, Yankees, Braves, Phillies, and Red Sox as teams angling for Diaz, not all of which have any inclination to pick up Cano. That’s not surprising, as it’s an awfully steep dollar amount, even though the long-time star second baseman does still have value himself on the ballfield. That said, Diaz arguably could command something approaching that whopping sum in a hypothetical open-market scenario. After all, he stands out against any other potentially available relievers this winter for his excellence, age, and control. That makes this general structure at least somewhat plausible, though it’ll surely be quite complicated to pull something off.
- It seems the Mets have quite a few balls in the air at the moment as new GM Brodie Van Wagenen searches for a significant deal that will help jumpstart the franchise. Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link) and Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter) each doused the flames of speculation involving the Mets as a possible match in a Cano swap. But that doesn’t mean the team didn’t explore the subject with the Mariners. SNY.tv’s Andy Martino suggested some possible scenarios involving Cano, though really the basic framework does not seem workable from the Seattle side. Martino says the clubs have batted around a concept in which Seattle would both pay about $50MM of Cano’s salary and take on more in return, such as through Jay Bruce’s $26MM contract, while sending Diaz or Mitch Haniger to New York. Trouble is, the implication there is that the Mets could buy one of those excellent young players for less than $50MM, which doesn’t seem like sufficient salary relief for the Mariners to justify the loss of such core talent.
- Meanwhile, the biggest name seemingly in play on the Mets’ side is Noah Syndergaard, the uber-talented but health-questionable young righty. The Padres have made clear they won’t part with top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., per Martino, which dovetails with expectations. While the report indicates that the teams have also discussed San Diego backstop Austin Hedges, he certainly does not profile as a centerpiece in a deal for Syndergaard. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription links) suggests the Rockies could be an under-the-radar suitor for Syndergaard, who’d turn their rotation into a potentially outstanding unit. Though the offense is surely the priority in Colorado, that can be addressed through relatively low-cost investments; adding Thor, meanwhile, is surely an intriguing thought.