Although the July trade deadline has come and gone, it doesn’t mean that trade season is over.
Players can still be traded, but if they are on the 40-man roster, they must clear revocable trade waivers in order to be traded. For a better explanation, check out this informative post from MLBTradeRumors on how August trades work.
Nonetheless, the Indians have completed their first trade of the month, though it came at the expense of fan favorite Vinnie Pestano.
The Indians announced on Thursday that Pestano was dealt to the Angels. In return, the Tribe will receive pitching prospect Michael Clevinger.
The Angels have announced the deal as well.
Pestano, 29, was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball as recently as 2012, when he posted a 2.57 ERA (3.42 FIP) over 70 innings and 70 appearances. He also struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings, while walking a reasonable 3.1 batters per nine.
However, he began to struggle last season, and he finished the year with a 4.08 ERA in 37 games (35 1/3 innings pitched), though it came with an abnormally high FIP of 5.03. His normally strong peripherals suddenly declined, including his ridiculous BB/9 ratio of 5.3. His velocity declined, and he looked nothing like what he did in the years before. The Indians became frustrated with Pestano, and ultimately optioned him to Triple-A Columbus after acquiring fellow reliever Marc Rzepczynski from the Cardinals last season.
This season, Pestano had an ugly 5.00 ERA over 13 appearances and 9 innings pitched, though it looks worse because of a few bad outings. However, in his brief time with the Indians this season, Pestano has struck out 13 batters while walking only 1.
Pestano again spent time with Columbus this season, though he looked more like his old self and pitched to a measly 1.78 ERA (2.21 FIP) in 32 appearances and 30 1/3 innings pitched. He struck out 37 while walking 12 over that time.
The relationship between Pestano and the Indians may have soured after the right-hander lost an arbitration hearing to the team this past offseason. The Indians used comments Pestano himself said to reporters against him in his hearing, which didn’t sit well with Pestano. The apparently strained relationship between the Indians and Pestano may not be the reason he spent so much time in Columbus this season (after all, he has struggled at times), but it likely didn’t help things.
As for the Tribe’s return, they receive Clevinger, a 23-year old righty who was a 4th-round pick of the Halos back in 2011 from Seminole Community College in Florida.
After an impressive start to his professional career, Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery, which certainly slowed down his path to the big leagues. He returned in 2013 to make 3 starts for various Angels rookie league affiliates, though the results were inconsistent. But for a young pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery (especially considering his limited sample size), 2013 isn’t an accurate portrayal of the right-hander’s ability.
This season, Clevinger dominated the Single-A Midwest League, pitching to a 1.88 ERA (2.95 FIP) over 5 starts. In his 24 innings, he struck out a whopping 27 batters while walking just 5.
Consequently, the Angels promoted him to the Single-A Advanced California League. Although he struggled somewhat in his 13 starts there (5.37 ERA, 5.19 FIP), he struck out 58 batters over his 55 1/3 innings of work. He also walked 27, but I personally don’t feel as though command will be an issue for him — especially if he turns out as a reliever.
MLB.com ranked Clevinger as the Angels’ 10th-ranked prospect in their midseason prospect rankings, and had the following to say about him in their scouting report:
The right-handed junior-college product started doing that in the instructional league last fall, once again showing good angle on his fastball with some command of the pitch. Clevinger’s slider has good sharp, late break to it, he has a feel for a changeup and he’ll even mix in a curveball.
Clearly, Clevinger is a very intriguing pitching prospect, especially for an organization like the Indians that doesn’t currently have many.
There’s certainly a chance that Clevinger will wind up as a reliever in the future, but the Angels clearly believe he has the stuff to start, and I would imagine the Indians will give him the same opportunity. If everything works out, he has the ability to be a solid starter in the majors. If not, a reliever with the potential for 4 pitches is a pretty valuable commodity.
In addition, Clevinger seems excited for his new opportunity with the Indians, which is something that I always love.
Pestano took to Twitter as well, sending out a series of somewhat depressing tweets, in addition to immediately changing his profile picture and bio.
To the average fan, it might seem like the Indians are giving up on this season, having already dealt starter Justin Masterson and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera in addition to Pestano. But here’s the truth: none of these three players had a long-term future in Cleveland.
For sentimental reasons, it would have been nice to keep any one of these three players. But sentimentality doesn’t win baseball games, and unfortunately, baseball is a business too. In exchange for players who had no future with the Indians, the Tribe added three talented prospects who have the potential to impact Cleveland in the not-too-distant future.
It’s pretty darn tough to blame GM Chris Antonetti for what he’s done. The fans might not agree with me, but he’s been doing his job extremely well.
Besides, what have Masterson, Cabrera, and Pestano done to help the Indians potentially make the playoffs this season? Exactly — not much at all. Getting rid of three players who weren’t going to impact the Tribe’s playoff hopes this season and adding three players who could in the future is simply genius.
There was also a good chance the Indians would have simply non-tendered Pestano this offseason, and getting value for him now instead of losing him for nothing is a smart move.
But I won’t lie; I’m emotional too (maybe that’s why I’m single, I don’t know). Like some other Indians fans, I’m sad to see Pestano leave (I’m also sad that Andrew Wiggins is reportedly being traded, but I’ll get over it after I cry through a series of tissue boxes).
Pestano is an awesome guy, and he’s probably one of the funniest players in baseball. On behalf of Wahoo’s on First and Indians fans everywhere, I’d like to thank him for everything he’s done in Cleveland, and I wish him the best of luck with the Angels.
However, the sad truth is that he wasn’t needed in Cleveland anymore. The Indians have plenty of relievers at the majors and at Columbus, so being able to turn Pestano — essentially a spare part — into a talented young pitching prospect with upside is a deal I’d make every day of the week.
Now, I’m not saying Pestano isn’t talented. In fact, he has the talent to be a terrific major league reliever, and he’s already shown that he’s capable of doing just that. But he’s pitched well in Columbus all season long, and the Indians still haven’t given him much of a chance in Cleveland.
The Indians likely moved on from him a long time ago, and it’s better to give Pestano a chance elsewhere and acquire a talented pitching prospect than it would be to keep him and hide him in the minors.
He’ll get a well-deserved chance with the Angels, and while GM Jerry DiPoto has done a lot to improve his team’s bullpen (though at the expense of his team’s farm system), Pestano will still get the opportunity to prove himself with his new team. And frankly, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he thrives there. He certainly has the talent to.
But the Indians weren’t going to give him that chance. To me, this deal is a win-win for both teams, but it’s also a win for Pestano. He deserves another chance in the majors.
And he’ll likely be getting it.