The Angels and Indians have discussed a trade involving right-hander Mike Clevinger, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports. Talks between the two clubs have seemingly stalled, however, or at least “there has not been active dialogue in recent days,” as Morosi described the situation. It’s possible to imagine that negotiations may have not have gotten far at all, given how Morosi reports that the Indians’ first ask was top Angels prospect Jo Adell as well as another player.
Adell is a consensus top-five prospect in baseball, ranked #2 in the sport by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, #3 by Fangraphs, and #5 by MLB Pipeline. This impressive set of ratings comes despite an abbreviated 2019 season for Adell, who was waylaid by ankle and hamstring injuries and limited to just 341 PA over 76 total games at three different minor league levels. Only 27 of those games came with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, and since Adell had only a .676 OPS over 132 PA for the Bees, the Angels could opt to give him a bit more seasoning time at Triple-A before summoning him to the big leagues (and of course, the team would gain an extra year of control over Adell by keeping him in the minors for at least a few weeks).
Still, Adell is expected to make his MLB debut in 2020 and could be counted on as an everyday player by season’s end. It has been widely speculated that the Halos will use 2019 breakout star Brian Goodwin in right field until Adell is ready for a promotion, and then Adell and Goodwin will, at worst, split duties for the remainder of the year. Should Adell make an immediate impact (or even if Goodwin matches his strong production from last season), the Angels promise to boast one of the league’s stronger outfields, assuming Justin Upton returns to good health and Mike Trout continues his Cooperstown-level domination of the sport.
With so much expected of Adell so soon, it isn’t surprising that the Angels balked at moving him in any trade demand, even for a pitcher like Clevinger. The 29-year-old righty has a 2.96 ERA, 3.13 K/BB rate, and 10.3 K/9 over 500 2/3 innings since the start of the 2017 season. Clevinger is controlled through the 2022 season and is projected to earn $4.5MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility; his initial arb salary would surely have been much higher were it not for a teres major muscle injury that cost him around two months of action last year.
Between Clevinger’s cost-controlled price tag and strong results on the mound, Cleveland has seemingly no immediate reason to move him for anything less than a huge return. The payroll-conscious Tribe has already moved Corey Kluber to the Rangers this offseason and might yet still trade Francisco Lindor, though those players are much more expensive and offer less years of control than Clevinger. In fact, despite Kluber’s salary and injury-plagued 2019, it’s fair to wonder whether the Indians would have moved the former Cy Young Award winner had it not been for the team’s comfort level in Clevinger as the new ace of their staff, not to mention the development of young arms Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale.
The Padres and Dodgers have also had interest in Clevinger this offseason, and it’s probably safe to guess that any club in need of pitching has at least checked in with the Tribe to see if a deal could be found for Clevinger or perhaps any member of the impressive Cleveland rotation. The Angels have added Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran to their starting five this offseason and will be getting Shohei Ohtani back from Tommy John surgery, though Anaheim still lags behind many contending teams in terms of both depth and frontline arms. Clevinger was actually picked by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, but was sent to Cleveland in an August 2014 trade for reliever Vinnie Pestano.