10 Cleveland Indians Trade Targets to Improve Terrible Offense
Cleveland has another case of deja vu. The Indians are once again hanging around in the playoff race despite the fact that they have another floundering offense.
The Indians have the second-worst average in the American League and rank among the bottom five in most offensive categories. Fortunately, the team's pitching has been good enough to keep them in contention, which has become a recurring trend for the Tribe. However, the Indians aren’t likely to make the playoffs this year if they can’t put together a halfway decent offense during the second half of the season.
To make that happen, the Indians will need to make at least one or two additions at the trade deadline. Even with more than six weeks left to make a move, here are 10 players the Indians should be targeting on the trade market before it's too late.
Cleveland is near the bottom of the American League in home runs, so they could surely benefit from Joey Gallo’s power. Even though he has one more year of arbitration left, the last-place Rangers will be open to trading him now since he’ll have more value than a rental player. Of course, that means that Gallo would be able to help Cleveland for a year and a half before hitting free agency.
The downside is that Gallo’s overall numbers are down considerably from a couple of years ago, even if he’s still on pace to hit around 30 home runs this year. However, Gallo, while not a strong defensive player, has experience at all four corner positions, as well as center field. That means the Indians could move him to any position where they aren’t getting production, which is almost every spot at the moment.
The Indians have received no productivity from the catcher position this year, so they could use an upgrade at that spot, especially with Roberto Perez on the shelf for a while. The problem is that there aren’t that many rental catchers available right now. But the Pirates might be willing to listen to offers for Jacob Stallings, who still has two more years of arbitration.
While he’s not an impact offensive player, he’s having a better year with the bat than any other Cleveland catcher and would be a long-term investment rather than a rental.
Adam Frazier ís another player the Pirates could trade this summer when his value is high. He’s having a career season offensively and has another year of arbitration, so he could help Cleveland in 2022 as well.
Frazier is batting well over .300, so he’d be a huge upgrade at second base over Cesar Hernandez. He also has a little experience playing the outfield if necessary. While Frazier doesn’t offer much power, he’s hitting for a high average and is on pace to collect over 50 doubles this year.
At this point, the Cleveland lineup just needs hits, and Frazier is someone who could provide them.
The Tigers are going nowhere, so even though Robbie Grossman has another year left on his contract, he’s someone who could be available via trade. Granted, he’s not a huge power hitter, but he’s a switch-hitter who is better from the right side. That would make him a nice complement or potential platoon partner for left-hand hitting corner outfielders like Eddie Rosario and Josh Naylor.
Adding Grossman wouldn’t make a huge splash, but it would move the needle for a team in need.
If the Indians want power, Eduardo Escobar is someone who could provide it. The caveat is that he’s batting just .237 this season. But he’s also on pace to hit 35 home runs. That would surely make him an upgrade over Hernandez at second base.
If the Indians are interested in adding a pure power hitter, Escobar should be on their radar because the Diamondbacks will surely be looking to unload him.
Speaking of power hitters, C.J. Cron is another player who can help in that department.
With the Rockies going nowhere, they should be more than happy to send Cron to a contending team. He could immediately solve Cleveland's problems at first base, which is a position where the Indians have yielded nothing significant offensively. Even with a modest .774 OPS, Cron would be a huge upgrade at first base for Cleveland.
A right-handed-hitting outfielder who is a bonafide center fielder from a defensive perspective would be an ideal fit for Cleveland. Jordan Luplow hasn’t hit at all while Amed Rosario is a shortstop they’ve tried to plug into center field at times. Bringing in Starling Marte would fix problems on multiple fronts for the Indians.
On top of that, he’s had an outstanding season offensively when healthy, batting .360 with an OPS of 1.054.
Unless the Marlins get things turned around quickly, Marte should be available on the trade market and the Indians would be wise to make a serious push for him.
There’s no guarantee that Mitch Haniger will be available, but trading him is something the Mariners will have to consider.
As a right-handed power bat, Haniger’s presence would be greatly appreciated in Cleveland’s lineup. He also has one more year of arbitration left, so he would return to Cleveland in 2022 and continue to be a middle-of-the-order hitter.
Obviously, the price would be steep, but Haniger would go a long way toward making the Indians contenders in 2021 and 2022.
Trading for Ketel Marte would be a dream scenario for the Indians, and he would be the perfect trade candidate.
For starters, he’s had a great year, batting .365 with an OPS of .977. He would also solve the team’s problems in center field by being Cleveland’s everyday player there. Perhaps most importantly, he has three years and $24 million left on his current contract, making him a long-term investment in addition to a player who can make an impact this year.
The price would be high if the Diamondbacks were to part with him. But adding a player like Marte would help the Indians to reload their lineup to supplement their outstanding pitching staff without having to perform a full-scale rebuild.
To be fair, it’s unlikely that the Indians will trade for Trevor Story, but since he’s the best hitter available, he must be mentioned.
Obviously, it would cost Cleveland a fortune for a player who’s a rental, especially since the Indians don't have the funds to re-sign him this winter. The Indians would also have to move Amed Rosario to center field for the rest of the season. However, Story would immediately change the look of Cleveland’s order. He’d provide a big bat and some protection for Jose Ramirez.
If and when Franmil Reyes returns from injury, the trio of Ramirez, Story, and Reyes would be quite formidable, especially for a team with such great pitching. It would take a leap of faith, but Cleveland has to at least consider the possibility of making a play for Story.
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