Twitter was ablaze on Thursday with rumors about the Indians and Blue Jays discussing a trade involving Carlos Carrasco.
When I first saw the rumor, I laughed. Surely it was started by someone in the Blue Jays organization wanting to spread rumors so the team could claim they made an honest effort to improve at the deadline.
Sources: Cleveland has been willing to listen on pitching, particularly Carlos Carrasco. May be a match there with Toronto. They've talked.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2015
From a talent standpoint, Carrasco is far from untouchable. But his contract makes him one of the most valuable trade assets in the Indians organization.
In April, the Indians agreed to a contract extension through the 2020 season, with buyouts of under $1M in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons. From 2016 through 2020, Carrasco will cost a total of $37.5M—five years worth of Carrasco for what would likely be the price of three years of him on the open market.
I’ve been critical of Carrasco in the past and his roller coasters career, but at worst he’s solid third starter who occasionally pitches like an ace. And the Indians have that wrapped up for five more years at the price of a fourth or fifth starter on the open market.
To give you an idea of just how valuable Carrasco’s deal is for the Indians, consider these other recent free agent contracts:
Edwin Jackson, Cubs – signed four-year, $52M deal in 2011 ($13M per year)
Ervin Santana, Twins – signed four year $55M deal in 2015 ($13.7M per year)
Bartolo Colon, Mets – signed two-year $20M deal in 2014 ($10M per year)
Justin Masterson, Red Sox – signed one-year $9.5M in 2015
Think about that last one for a minute. The Red Sox are paying Justin Masterson—who has a 5.90 ERA over the last two years—as much as the Indians will be paying Carrasco at the peak of his contract in 2020.
So what if the Blue Jays really want him, what’s the cost?
That’s an absurd offer for a player of Carrasco’s caliber, but the Indians should absolutely start there in the negotiations given the value of Carrasco’s contract.
The Blue Jays would likely never agree to such a deal, but it’s a starting point. Perhaps they would consider Pompey and Kevin Pillar? Or Norris and other lesser prospects?
The only reason I won’t rule out the possibility of a trade entirely is the fact that the Blue Jays are an unpredictable organization. They haven’t been to the postseason since 1993 and have made a series of shocking trades (Jose Reyes, Josh Donaldson, etc) which show a willingness to think outside the box and a desire to turn things around immediately.
So while I don’t necessarily want, and certainly don’t expect a trade, there’s good reason for the Indians to at least listen to the Blue Jays offer.