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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest on Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians | Bleacher Report

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 05:  Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Houston Astros during Game One of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park on October 5, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Tim Warner/Getty Images

There are a handful of teams that have a chance to completely turn the MLB offseason on its head if they decide to be active on the trade market.

The Cleveland Indians are one such team.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN, financial restrictions could lead to some key veteran players being shopped on the trade block this offseason.

There’s a lot to unpack there, and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is obviously the name that jumps off the page.

It was another excellent season for the 32-year-old, as he went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 222 strikeouts in an American League-high 215 innings.

Kluber is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract and will earn $17 million in 2019.

However, his current deal also carries a pair of team-friendly club options for 2020 ($17.5 million) and 2021 ($18 million) that make him an extremely valuable trade chip.

It would surely take a pair of top-tier prospects and more to pry him loose.

Carlos Carrasco

Carlos CarrascoTim Warner/Getty Images

Carlos Carrasco doesn’t have the same collection of hardware in his trophy room, but he’s an equally attractive trade chip.

The 31-year-old was terrific once again this past season, going 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 231 strikeouts in 192 innings.

The Indians already exercised his $9.75 million option for the upcoming season, and his contract carries one more option year in 2020 at $9.5 million, so he too would represent more than just a one-year rental.

With Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber also in the starting rotation, the Indians could conceivably trade one of Kluber or Carrasco and still have one of the best starting rotations in baseball.

In a market where Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel and Nathan Eovaldi are the top available free agents, now would be the perfect time for the Indians to maximize the value of their top starters while potentially freeing up some payroll space and bolstering the farm system in the process.

Catcher Yan Gomes is also listed as a potential trade candidate by Olney, and he too carries value, albeit not at the same level as the two top-flight starting pitchers.

After a pair of down seasons, Gomes rebounded to post a 103 OPS+ with 26 doubles, 16 home runs and 48 RBI. He also threw out 29 percent of base stealers, was an All-Star for the first time and finished the season with 2.6 WAR.

For a team looking to upgrade the catcher position but not interested in making a long-term commitment to free agents Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos, Gomes could be an attractive alternative.

The 31-year-old will earn $7.083 million in 2019, followed by a pair of reasonably priced club options in 2020 ($9 million) and 2021 ($11 million).

The trouble is, after trading Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber over the summer, there’s no clear in-house replacement beyond backup Roberto Perez.

Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin EncarnacionDylan Buell/Getty Images

The final name on that list, Edwin Encarnacion, will be difficult to move.

The 35-year-old is owed $21.667 million in 2019, and he has a $20 million team option for 2020 that carries a $5 million buyout.

Encarnacion is still a dangerous slugger, as he posted a 115 OPS+ with 32 home runs and 107 RBI in 2018, but teams are putting less of a premium on offense-only players.

It would likely take eating a good chunk of his salary to find a taker, and that would defeat the purpose.

So will the Indians really consider moving a significant veteran piece?

It’s too soon to tell, but in this market, shopping Kluber and Carrasco makes a lot of sense, and it could help the team in the long run.

     

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.



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