The Los Angeles Dodgers could use another starter. That’s no secret.
Even with Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu coming back, even with Walker Buehler establishing himself as one of the best young pitchers in baseball, even with all of the depth, it would still be of benefit to have another frontline option in the rotation.
If the Dodgers wish to add another top start to the organization, the Cleveland Indians represent a potential trade partner considering their intriguing options..While they won 91 games this season, the Indians seem to be keen to move pieces from their pitching staff.
And they have some serious depth, as three of their starters posted fWARs of 5.0 or higher last season, and four had a mark of 4.0 or higher.
Corey Kluber is the most obvious name, having won a pair of Cy Young Awards, including one in 2017. The 32-year-old veteran is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.89 ERA with a 3.12 FIP.
Kluber is signed to a team-friendly deal, making just $13 million in 2019, with team options for $13.5 million in 2020 and $14 million in 2021. He also get a $1 million bonus if he’s traded by next year and the club to which he’s traded must either accept or decline his options within three days after the 2019 World Series.
Another option for the Dodgeres Trevor Bauer, who broke out in a big way in 2018. After posting a 6.1 fWAR, he finished 6th in AL Cy Young voting. The 27-year-old Southern California native has two more years of control, both arbitration years, and is due for a substantial raise in each of the next two seasons.
The third option is Carlos Carrasco, who is coming off his second consecutive season with at least 5.0 fWAR. The 31-year-old nearly reached 200 innings for a second straight year, clocking in at 192. Like Bauer, he’s under control for two more seasons (both team options), but it’s been rumored that Cleveland is looking to extend his contract.
The value between the three Indians starters pretty even. The production is very similar and each are under control for two or three more years. So, what would a package from the Dodgers look like?
Yasiel Puig’s name has been tossed around for a few seasons now. While he’s only under control for one more season before he reaches free agency, his value has ticked up as his bat has picked up and he’s shown plenty of value in right field.
Another option is Joc Pederson, who’s cheaper and has an additional year of control. Pederson put up a 2.7 fWAR last season while mostly being platooned. And then there’s Alex Verdugo, who doesn’t really fit on the roster and is the organization’s best trade chip.
The Indians may also covet one of the Dodgers’ catching prospects. Cleveland dealt top prospect Francisco Mejia last season for Brad Hand, then recently sent Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals, leaving the position open for Eric Haase, a 26-year-old who offers lots of power but not a broad range of value.
The Dodgers won’t want to part with Keibert Ruiz, who’s arguably the top catching prospect in baseball, but would be much more open to moving Will Smith. The converted infielder offers plenty of athleticism behind the plate and intriguing power/on-base ability in the box. He can also play third base.
And let’s not forget about pitching. Dustin May is probably the most desired arm in the Dodgers farms system, as he’s been into the high 90s with a good breaking ball. Mitchell White has good stuff and recovered from a rough start to the 2018 season to finish strong.
Another name that may come up is Brock Stewart, who’s out of options and doesn’t really have a role on the Major League roster.
So what would a trade between the Dodgers and Indians look like?
It could shake out to something along the lines of Puig, Verdugo, Smith and Stewart for any of Bauer, Kluber or Carrasco. Throwing in Ruiz or May could tip the scales but L.A. would prefer not to.
However, if there’s a bidding war, the Dodgers could chop off the top of their farm to immensely improve their rotation.