Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger returned Wednesday from a team-imposed demotion that lasted almost two weeks after he violated coronavirus protocols. Clevinger threw six innings of two-run ball in a win over the Twins in his comeback, though there continues to be trade speculation centering on the 29-year-old as the Aug. 31 deadline draws closer. He’s “definitely being talked about in trade scenarios,” tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network, but the Indians’ asking price is “ridiculous.”
Clevinger certainly isn’t the most popular player in the Cleveland organization in the wake of his recent off-field mistakes, though it’s hard to fault the club for placing a high price tag on him. After all, the hard-throwing Clevinger’s a proven front-line producer who’s affordable this year, in which he’s earning a prorated $4.1MM, and under control for two more full seasons via arbitration.
Since he broke out in 2017, Clevinger has posted a sparkling 2.97 ERA/3.43 FIP with 10.22 K/9 and 3.35 BB/9 in 470 1/3 innings. Along with AL Cy Young front-runner Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Carlos Carrasco, Clevinger helps give the Indians’ rotation one of the top quartets in baseball (and that’s without potential rising star Zach Plesac, whom the team optioned alongside Clevinger). There’s also rookie Triston McKenzie, who fired six innings of two-hit, one-run, 10-strikeout ball in his MLB debut versus the Tigers last Saturday.
Thanks in part to their overflow of quality starting pitching, the Indians have begun the year 19-12, atop the AL wild-card race and just a half-game behind the Twins in their division. With that in mind, there’s no reason for the contending Indians to part with Clevinger for anything less than a Godfather offer before Monday.