Welcome back to part II of my: What do the Cleveland Indians do now series. This time I will break down a big-time trade for the Indians and a pair of prospects that should be called up to the major leagues next season.
It is unfortunate but it is time to trade the aging veteran. Kipnis was one of the main driving forces in the 2016 season but over the past two seasons, Kipnis has struggled to stay healthy and to produce at the plate. While Kipnis is struggling, others have been coming into their own at the plate and in the field. The likes of Yandy Diaz and Erik Gonzalez have shown over this past season that it is time for them to get more playing time. It will come at the cost of Kipnis because there is no room for the veteran on this team. Tito cannot put him at second base and move Jose Ramirez, Erik or Yandy out of their spot and you cannot put him out in centerfield because of Bradley Zimmer, Greg Allen, and Leonys Martin.
This past off-season the Indians had a trade for Kipnis to go to the New York Mets but the Mets backed out of the trade at the last minute. This shows that the front office is willing to trade Kipnis. The only problem with trading a player like Kipnis is not the return you would get but it is letting go of a highly respected clubhouse presence. Kipnis has the effect in the clubhouse that players like Mike Napoli did in 2016. Players would be extremely sad to see Kipnis go but, I think it is time to trade Kipnis and let the younger players take the spot and play on. Overall, I think the Indians would and should trade Kipnis for either an outfield prospect or for some immediate bullpen help, likely from a National League team.
Prospects that should be called up
Oscar Mercado was a surprise and very under the radar trade at the deadline this season. The Indians traded two respected prospects in Connor Capel and Jhon Torres. Mercado was the St. Louis Cardinals’ number 10 prospects and really started to take off before the trade. After the trade Mercado slipped in his numbers, only hitting .252 over his 32 games for the AAA Columbus Clippers. Mercado is primarily a centerfielder but can play all over the outfield. Mercado could obviously take over the role of the everyday right fielder or with the possibility of Michael Brantley leaving, Mercado could take the spot in left field. I think the 23-year-old former shortstop is primed and ready to take over as the primary corner outfielder for the Cleveland Indians next season.
Nick Sandlin is currently the Indians number 18 overall prospect. Sandlin is a primary reliever and will the showing the Indians’ bullpen showed this season, Sandlin is definitely a name the Indians should bring up to the parent club. Sandlin was the Indians second-round draft pick in the latest draft out of Southern Mississippi. Sandlin blew through the minor leagues reaching the AA Akron Rubberducks by the end of the minor league season. Sandlin did struggle in his 4.1 innings of work for the Rubberducks this season giving up five earned runs totaling a 10.38 ERA, bringing his total ERA for his 2018 minor league season to 3.00 flat. The 21-year-old could possibly use a little bit more time in the minors as he has only thrown 24 innings through the four ranks he was with. Sandlin could definitely help the tribe bullpen come back to what it was even with the possible losses of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller.
Overall, there could be some more moves the Indians could make besides trading Kipnis and calling up Mercado and Sandlin, but this is where Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff need to start. Check back for my final 25-man roster prediction and some final free agent and trade targets for the Cleveland Indians in part III later this week.