The Padres and Indians remain engaged in “continued discussions” regarding Cleveland’s group of high-quality, veteran starters, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic (Twitter link). There’s no expectation that a deal will come together by the start of the season, but the ongoing chatter remains notable.
When the Friars first started inquiring on high-end pitching, it was arguably a premature pursuit for a team whose best prospects are still filtering up to the majors. But the club’s MLB talent base was improved substantially with the stunning signing of superstar Manny Machado — a decision that raised expectations and enhanced the merits of surrendering future assets to improve the existing pitching staff.
The San Diego rotation is not without promise, particularly in the long run. Trouble is, it’s more or less completely lacking in established MLB rotation pieces. The club returns only two pitchers that took at least twenty starts in the bigs last year; neither of those hurlers (Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer) had previously thrown a pitch at the game’s highest level.
While it’s easy to dream on players like Chris Paddack, who seems on track to earn a big-league job, the Padres would surely like a more established arm to anchor the staff. The Indians have those in spades, with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer seeming to represent the likeliest trade candidates. The former is controlled for three seasons at $52.5MM in total (the final two seasons via option), while the latter is earning $13MM this year with another arb season left to go.
The Indians are said to have lowered their asking price somewhat since the sides’ earlier discussions. That fact does at least speak to the organization’s motivations. Evidently, it still thinks there may be an opportunity to trim some financial obligations while maintaining a still-strong rotation and adding talent in other areas. Just what Cleveland really needs to make a deal obviously isn’t known, but it stands to reason that controllable talent in the outfield would be of particular interest.
As before, the Padres are loaded with young talent of nearly every imaginable asset class. Top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. is surely off limits; perhaps the same holds true of a few other premium young players the club holds most dearly. But it is still possible to imagine several pathways to an agreement. After all, these teams have lined up on a notable deal involving a top prospect, valuable young player, and excellent veteran in the not-so-distant past.