CLEVELAND, Ohio — If the Indians really are going to trade one of their starting pitchers, what do they have to get in return and who would be their best trading partner?
First let’s take inventory of a starting rotation that led the American League with 76 wins last season and ranked second to Houston with an ERA of 3.39. It’s hard to imagine the Indians trading Mike Clevinger or Shane Bieber. They’re just breaking out of the shell, emerging as the future of the rotation.
That leaves established starters Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer as the most likely pitchers to be dealt. They could all be gone, even without a trade, by 2021.
Kluber, who finished third in the AL Cy Young voting on Wednesday, is signed through 2019 with club options for 2020 and 2021. Kluber, 33 in April, is owed $48.5 million if his options are exercised.
The Indians exercised Carrasco’s 2019 option for $9.75 million and hold a club option worth an estimated $10 million on him for 2020. He”ll be 32 in March.
Bauer, 28 in January, is eligible for arbitration this winter. It’s estimated his salary could jump to $11.6 million this year. He’s under team control through 2020 before he’s eligible for free agency.
Kluber, Carrasco and Bauer were a combined 49-23 with a 2.84 ERA last season. The struck out 674 batters in 582 1/3 innings.