As the hot stove in the MLB off-season starts to heat up, many rumors abound concerning the Dodgers. The most prevalent ones are between the Dodgers and the Indians, with Cleveland sending a starting pitcher to the Dodgers, for one of the Dodgers’ outfielders (plus others).
The Indians are looking to restructure their payroll, so they could work on keeping Francisco Lindor who is arbitration eligible after next season, while upgrading their bullpen. They are reportedly willing to trade one or two of their starters, namely Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and/or Carlos Carrasco. Which one of these three right handed pitchers would be the best fit for the Dodgers rotation?
Kluber is a two-time AL Cy Young winner who is the only pitcher besides Max Scherzer to throw more than 1,000 innings since 2014. The 32-year-old lead the AL with 215 innings in 2018 through 33 games, sporting a 20-7 record and a 2.89 ERA with 222 strikeouts and a 0.991 WHIP. He avoided the DL, but needed shots in his knee over the All-Star Break to make it through the rest of the season. Kluber has not pitched well in the playoffs, going 0-3 in his last three starts with an ERA over 10. He is signed through 2019 with the remainder of a five-year/$42.3 million contract and has team options for the two years after that.
Carlos Carrasco is probably the least likely of the three to be traded to the Dodgers. He pitched 192 innings last season, with a 17-10 record, a 3.38 ERA, 231 strikeouts and a 1.125 WHIP. The 31-year-old is signed through 2019 at $9.8 million with a team option for $9.5 million in 2020. Carrasco is coming off of four straight 25+ start seasons, with a 3.40 combined ERA over that time. He and Kluber are each part of seven pitchers who have had at least 25 starts and 110 ERA+ over the last three seasons.
The most intriguing of the trio is Trevor Bauer. Only Carrasco and Kluber were mentioned as being available for trade, until a few days ago when Bob Nightengale tweeted that Bauer not only could be, but was the one the Indians were most interested in moving. The 27-year-old starter is coming off his best season yet, going 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA in 28 games and 175.1 innings. He amassed 221 strikeouts at an 11.3 K/9 rate and had a 1.089 WHIP. His previous best before last season 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 2017.
Bauer does not become a free agent until 2021 and will be second year arb eligible after the 2019 season. He’s younger and under team control for longer, but some might see his brashness as not fitting the the Los Angeles front office’s MO, and one could also wonder if he will continue to have the type of years that he did in 2018.
The Dodgers could use right-handed pitching, as Walker Buehler is currently the only righty starter. Any one of these pitchers would be a formidable number three behind he and Kershaw.
In return for one of these front line starters, Yasiel Puig has been the most mentioned name. The Indians would also like a pitcher to replace the one their had traded, so maybe Alex Wood could be included in the deal. Presumably a prospect, or maybe including somebody like Yadier Alvarez, or one of the two catching prospects would get the deal done. Catcher Yan Gomes‘ name has also been floated out there as someone who the Dodgers may be interested in, so the package could grow if that was indeed the case of both a starter and catcher going to the Dodgers.
As an aside, baseball first and foremost is a business, and I believe the most of the fans understand and deal with that. But that doesn’t mean when a beloved member of your team is included in so trade talks, it hurts any less. Puig has been mentioned in trade talks for his whole tenure as a Dodger, and frankly I’m a little surprised he hasn’t actually been traded before now. Puig is under control through the upcoming season, and it would seem the Dodgers might not want to re-sign him if they are willing to trade him. His tenure with the team might be coming to an end—his flair and personality will leave a huge hole on the team.
Regardless of who is included in a trade between the Dodgers and Indians, it makes a lot of sense for both sides. It fits both teams in terms of money and positional need, and while the rumors have persisted for awhile, which can sometimes mean nothing is going to happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if a trade does happen. (I’ll just hold out hope against hope that Puig is not included.).