Thanksgiving is over, the food coma has worn off, the leftovers are finally gone, and the Winter Meetings don’t start for a week. Nothing to do but speculate on potential trades.
The main order of business for the Indians is to rebuild the outfield. Take the Indians’ well-known need for outfielders, combine it with the fantastic four (Kluber, Carrasco, Bauer, and Salazar) of the current starting rotation, mix in the tried and true mantra of “You can never have too much pitching,” and the end result is 29 other teams sniffing around the Tribe starters like the Bumpus’ dogs around a Christmas turkey.
The painful question is, of course, whom do you trade? Judging by the rumor mill, it seems that Carlos Carrasco has been deemed the player who’d bring in the best return/could be traded without mutiny by fans. The Indians came close to trading Carlos Carrasco to the Blue Jays right before the trade deadline last summer, but the deal fell apart at the last minute. In addition, the Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers were all interested in him. Now that we’re into the off-season, there’s still talk of trading Carrasco. One scenario has him going to the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Brett Gardner. Gardner is a 32-year-old left-handed hitter (yes, another lefty) who has spent his entire (eight-year) career with the Yankees. He’s a solid hitter (.264/.346/.392 lifetime) with a a 3.3 WAR in 2015 (26.9 lifetime). He’s played both center and left fields with an overall .992 fielding percentage. He’d a fine addition to the outfield, but not in a one-for-one trade for Carrasco. However, throw in RHP prospect Luis Severino, and we’ve got a deal. (I know that won’t happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?)
Matthew Kory over at Fangraphs has an interesting theory: leave the starting rotation alone and trade reliever/closer Cody Allen. I actually like this idea. Don’t get me wrong–Allen is a great reliever/closer. But in the overall list of Things I Hate, losing a great starter ranks higher than losing a great closer. Plus having four solid starters all age 29 or younger is something you don’t get often. That’s a foundation you shouldn’t mess with. Here’s the other thing–Carrasco is under contract with the Indians through the end of the 2018 season, with club options for 2019 and 2020. Allen is arbitration eligible at the end of 2016, so they might as well use the tried-and-true route of trading while they can still get something for a good player. Carrasco is under contract through the end of the 2018 season, with club options for 2019 and 2020. Cody Allen for Brett Gardner or someone like him might be a trade we could all live with.