Last weekend, the Cleveland Indians kicked off the offseason by trading Esmil Rogers to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. In celebration of the first trade of the winter, we devoted this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable to the question: What did you think of the trade?
Jeff Mount: The biggest problem with this trade is that it takes our biggest surplus and gets us a guy with an OPS under .700. Now we can’t trade Perez without counting on someone like Nick Hagadone in the eighth inning, and we all know how risk-averse the Indians are about their bullpen, so this probably means they will keep Perez and not have enough chips to make a trade that really makes them better. Nothing against Aviles, but this follows in the proud tradition of Jason Michaels and David Delluci, role players that the Indians try and fail to turn into something more.
Evan Vogel: Esmil Rogers provided depth to a bullpen that had three good, reliable arms (Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, and Joe Smith). Without him, those three may have made 90 appearances and tossed 100 innings each, as Tony Sipp was not great, Rafael Perez was out nearly the entire season, and everyone else seemed to implode each time they entered the game.
With that being said, the Indians need depth, and Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes provide that. Aviles can play second, short, and third, while Gomes can catch and play the infield corners. Aviles is a potential replacement at short if the Tribe goes into sell-mode and casts off Asdrubal Cabrera for pieces to rebuild with. Gomes is a right-handed bat with some pop and his versatility could lead to the club dumping Jack Hannahan or Matt LaPorta, which could be a blessing.
While Rogers was a stud with a blazing fastball once arriving in Cleveland, he did enough in Colorado to warrant dealing him when others may have blinders on his past experiences. Aviles and Gomes aren’t superstars, but their presence could make the Indians a deeper team. Anyone who makes Brent Lillibridge, Aaron Cunningham, Matt LaPorta, and Jack Hannahan expendable is worth rostering.
Brian Heise: I loved the trade. While Rogers emerged as a key piece to the bullpen as the season progressed, there’s no track record to suggest that he can duplicate the success in 2013. Also, it’s not like he filled the role of closer or eighth inning setup man. He was a typical middle reliever, the kind you can find every offseason from a number of different places.
I also love that the trade provides the Tribe with the flexibility to make an impact move. It’s very much in play now that Asdrubal Cabrera is moved prior to the start of the season for pitching, hitting, or a combination of the two. Mike Aviles can provide them the stop gap shortstop they were missing until Francisco Lindor is ready to make the transition to the big league club. It also prevents the inevitable drama of what to do with Cabrera once Lindor is ready. This was a huge deal and if the Indians play it right they could parlay it into a very sizable return for the future.
Katrina Putnam: Trading Rogers for yet another utility player and backup catcher originally seemed like a bad idea. However, adding Aviles to the team gives the Indians the option of trading Asdrubal Cabrera, who will probably net the team more in return than just about anyone else. Aviles has the experience needed to be the everyday starting shortstop next year if the position becomes available, and he has a career OPS of .715, which isn’t terrible for a middle infielder. Even if Cabrera stays, Aviles should be a very reliable bench player.
Also, the addition of Gomes could allow the Indians to move Carlos Santana to first base and give Lou Marson the everyday job behind the plate, with Gomes serving as the backup catcher. That move might be necessary if no first baseman is acquired before next season, or if Santana continues to struggle as a catcher during spring training.
The only downside to the trade is that it hurts the options for movement in the bullpen. Even though Vinnie Pestano would be a great closer, it will be difficult to lose Joe Smith and Chris Perez without putting too much pressure on Cody Allen or Frank Hermann to become the new setup man. The Indians will probably have to keep at least one of the two, and that means taking on their salary increases. It’s sad to see Rogers go after such a successful season, but his value will probably never be higher than it is right now. The front office made the right decision.
Merritt Rohlfing: I liked the Rogers trade for a couple reasons. First, as others have said, it was a great case of selling high. I’d not heard much of Rogers before he showed up in Cleveland, and as far as I know he was just another random pitcher that got routinely shelled in Colorado. He looked really good with a Wahoo on, but considering he had an ERA below 6.00 only once in his career I can get over it.
The trade also gives the Tribe flexibility—Asdrubal Cabrera has faded down the stretch the last two seasons so this is a nice insurance and built in time off for him. Plus, if Cleveland trades A-Cab, Aviles is a fine player that can fill that hole competently. Gomes had a 63 OPS+ this season in Toronto, but he’s raked in the minors and if he can play defense and hit even a little bit he’s a great replacement for the great Lou Marson.
In all, it was a great move as I can see, and even if Rogers turns into a shutdown guy, any time you can move a middle reliever for a legit full-time player, you have to do it.
Ed Carroll: On one hand, anytime you can flip a middle reliever (who was acquired for a song) for a an almost everyday player and catching depth, yeah, you make that trade eight days a week. On the other hand, I really question how effective Aviles would be as an everyday shortstop if incumbent Asdrubal Cabrera is traded, and while he is a nice utility guy, the Indians do seen to have an abundance of guys that fit this mold (Donald, Lillibridge). Aviles is definately an upgrade over those guys, but will it matter much on this team? Gomes was a bit of a “meh” reaction, but he’s a nice depth option at catcher as a throw-in.
This move just seems, well irrelevant, unless Cabrera is dealt. But then I remember that Rogers, who admittedly was excellent in his half season here, is still a reliever, and they grow on trees—so anytime you can flip one for two big league position players, you make that deal.
Lewie Pollis: Just looking at the players involved I’m not sure how you could say this is a bad deal. The Indians turned a middle reliever with no history of sustained success into a potential starting-worthy middle infielder and a catcher with some raw power. Put it that way and this trade would be a steal at twice the price.
The sticking point for me is that I don’t see how this deal really helps the team. Aviles instantly becomes the Indians’ best utility infielder, but they already had at least three serviceable options for that spot in Jack Hannhan, Jason Donald, and Cord Phelps; a slight upgrade for a bench player won’t make much difference in the standings. And though he has intriguing potential, I fail to see how his competing with Lou Marson for the role of second string catcher will be of any real significance.
In the end, I guess I like this deal. It’s just that I don’t see the point.