It seems apparent that the Indians will be buyers as they approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They’re within three games of a playoff spot and there are some clear weaknesses in the roster, so even though Chris Antonetti won’t be selling the farm to go all in for 2012 you can bet he’s looking for ways to improve the team. But trading goes both ways, and just because the Tribe is in contention doesn’t mean the only players heading out of Cleveland will be prospects.
In this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panelists—featuring guest contributors Kevin Dean from Indians Prospect Insider and former Wahoo’s on First staff writer Ed Carroll from The Cleveland Fan—Who should the Indians try to trade before the deadline? Here’s what we all had to say:
Kevin Dean:I think it’s safe to say that there are four Indians whom would almost certainly not be brought up in trade talks: Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson and Carlos Santana. Beyond that, Lonnie Chisenhall, Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez and perhaps Michael Brantley would be difficult to part with, but not impossibly so. Not to underestimate the value of a good bullpen, but I have a hard time putting any relief pitcher in this conversation.
What you’re left with after that is a large quantity of players, but not a ton of quality. The myriad of bullpen arms would draw the most interest. Cord Phelps, Lou Marson, Josh Tomlin, Zach McAllister and Jeanmar Gomez are among others that could get the Indians somewhere in negotiations. And if the unfortunate scenario of falling out of contention were to happen, flipping the veteran soon-to-be free agents (Johnny Damon, Jose Lopez, Derek Lowe and Casey Kotchman) would likely not sadden a single fan.
I feel like Chisenhall could be a key to any major trade. Personally, I wouldn’t even consider including him for the players that are usually associated with the Indians, but I would also never go about sitting him three or four times a week and making him a nothing more than a platoon player, so…
Ed Carroll: In light of the recent sweep by the Yankees and the overall maddening inconsistency of this team, I’m not sure the Indians should be viewing the trade deadline the same way they were two weeks ago. It might not be time to panic and hold a fire sale, but I’d have to think hard before parting with guys like Nick Hagadone or Lonnie Chisenhall just to improve what is most likely a flawed club.
Instead, I’d look to move pieces that have value, such as Joe Smith, Tony Sipp (whatever value he has left) or possibly even Chris Perez. I realize the backlash trading Perez might cause (and believe me, it’d suck), but his value is sky high right now and he isn’t doing the team much good when they’re getting buried 7-1. If you can nab a young, controllable position player for Perez, I’d think you’d have to consider it. Perez may be a luxury the Indians don’t need. And besides, relievers grow on trees.
Lewie Pollis: The first guy on the trading block should be Jose Lopez. Somehow he’s convinced both the fans and Manny Acta that he’s one of the best hitters on the team, so presumably there are some other depth-starved contenders out there who could also see him through rose-colored glasses. Jason Donald or Cord Phelps could easily replace (and probably improve upon) Lopez’ production so it wouldn’t be a big loss, and Acta can’t play him too often if he’s not on the roster.
The other name that springs to mind is Matt LaPorta. I’d rather see him playing first for us everyday than shipped elsewhere, but since the Indians seem morally opposed to giving him a shot we might as well trade him for someone we’ll actually use. He’s hitting a ridiculous .308/.402/.579 in Triple-A this year so he’ll surely pique other teams’ interests, and Cleveland could have an easier time trading for someone like Carlos Lee if they include another powerful first baseman in the deal.
Geordy Boveroux: Roberto Hernandez, or whatever it is Fausto Carmona is calling himself nowadays. Quietly, Hernandez is getting closer to being able to pitch for a big league team, but I don’t see why it needs to be the Indians. Right now I’d rather see any one of Jeanmar Gomez, Scott Barnes or Zach McAllister get some big league experience. While Hernandez may help the Indians a bit more this season than one of those three, Hernandez is not a part of the Indians future. It may be best for the Indians to see what they can get for his rights, if anything.
Steve Kinsella: The Indians should be shopping Shin-Soo Choo before the deadline. Choo would join Carlos Quentin as the most desirable bat on the market and Choo’s remaining year on his contract would certainly swing the bargaining position in favor of the Indians. The Indians should use the Hunter Pence deal between the Astros and Phillies last season. Trading Choo now would free up money for either extensions to players currently under contract but to spend on the free agent pool following the season. The question I have is if the front office will be gun shy about trading Choo based on the negative PR hit that it would most certainly have to absorb.
Katie Hendershot: If the Indians consider themselves buyers at the trade deadline, trading a player away like Casey Kotchman could be beneficial. The value for him wouldn’t be incredibly high, but it would make more room for Matt LaPorta who hasn’t really had much of a chance at the big league level this year.
Kotchman hasn’t performed to the level that the Indians need him to this season. I think that LaPorta can do just as well, if not better, than Kotchman at the plate and it’s more likely that he has a chance to be a long-term solution at first base. Trading Kotchman might not garner anything major, but giving the time to LaPorta at first could be more valuable.
Brian Heise: I really feel like the Indians should trade Jack Hannahan. While I understand he does hold some value on this team and a special place in the hearts of most fans, he’s not the long term answer to anything. Why should the Indians continue to stunt the potential growth of Lonnie Chisenhall by spot starting him at third and DH or limiting him to a pinch-hitting role? If the Indians are serious about Chisenhall’s future as a key member of this team then they should take a page out of the Angels’, Nationals’, and now Cubs’ playbook and play Chisenhall everyday at third, no questions asked.
It’s beginning to look more and more apparent that they won’t be making a big move to bolster their status as contenders so why not do the next best thing and finally commit to their future? Chisenhall needs to learn to make adjustments and become an efficient hitter at the big league level. That’s happening only if he plays every day and knows he has a job in the regular lineup.
Merritt Rohlfing: There’s not a lot on the 40-man roster that can produce the right-handed bat the Indians crave, but right now the definition of selling high is Zach McAllister. It seems like every time this guy is called up he strikes out a handful, goes six innings and gives the team a great chance to win. Sure, some of this is probably chalked up to other teams not being ready for him, but somehow, I feel like I can count on Zach to give the team a shot at a win whenever he arrives from Columbus.
He’s on a high note right now, still just young enough where a crafty GM can spin it into upside, and he seems like the kind of pitcher that the Twins seem to always crave. It just so happens they have a guy named Josh Willingham, so hey, why not? The right answer to this is probably Chris Perez, but Hagadone isn’t ready yet to assume Pestano’s role and it’d throw the ‘pen into flux, so McAllister it is. Work your magic, Antonetti.