The Milwaukee Brewers have a few needs going into this offseason after making the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Another 2018 playoff team, the Cleveland Indians, could be looking to trade away some top players.
This tweet from Buster Olney could certainly shake up the trade market this winter, especially if the Milwaukee Brewers get involved.
Faced with market constraints, the Indians will listen to trade offers for some of their veteran players this winter, according to sources. Kluber, Carrasco, Encarnacion, Gomes, etc. Lindor, Ramirez will definitely be held.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 2, 2018
Those are some of the biggest names on that Indians roster. Obviously, cost controlled stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez aren’t going anywhere. But Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco led that dominant Cleveland rotation and are under relatively cheap contracts.
Edwin Encarnacion is a DH with a massive contract and he won’t be of any interest to Milwaukee. Yan Gomes is an interesting catcher, and he would fill a position of need, but he’s a light hitting catcher as well. which doesn’t help the Brewers upgrade much.
Why Should The Brewers Want Kluber Or Carrasco?
If they did, that would certainly be the big boost to the rotation everyone has wanted the Milwaukee Brewers to get for a year or two now. But is this possible?
Kluber is under team control for three more seasons. He’s due $17 million in 2019 and has two club options for 2020 and 2021. Those options are worth $17.5 million and $18 million respectively. Considering Kluber just posted his fifth straight 200+ IP season and has won two Cy Young Awards, that’s a pretty team-friendly contract.
Carrasco is under team control for two more seasons. He’s due $9.75 million in 2019 and has a club option for $9.5 million in 2020. Again, that’s a very team-friendly deal for a pitcher who just finished his fifth straight sub-4.00 ERA season.
Earlier in 2018, Carrasco threw a complete game against the Brewers at Miller Park, allowing only two runs and striking out 14. In his second start against the Brewers in Cleveland, Carrasco went seven strong innings, allowing only one run.
What Would It Take To Get Either One Of These Pitchers?
If you want Kluber, you might as well wave goodbye to Keston Hiura, the Crew’s top prospect. There would have to be other prospects involved, and perhaps some big league players in return. The Indians are still going to be contending for the playoffs next season and trading away top tier big league talents for minor league prospects may not be the best idea.
But Hiura is the best trade chip the Brewers have to offer, and he’s normally off the table in trade discussions. But for a bona fide ace in Corey Kluber for three years on a team-friendly deal, GM David Stearns would likely be willing to move Hiura. I’m not sure if Carrasco would warrant Hiura, but the Indians would likely push for it.
For big league talent the Milwaukee Brewers could move, the Indians are going to be in need of some outfielders. But some combination of Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, or Eric Thames likely aren’t enough to move the needle in negotiations for an ace. Veteran starters like Zach Davies and Chase Anderson are likely available as well, but will they move the needle at all?
If the Indians are willing to accept a package surrounding Hiura and outfield prospect Corey Ray, who is getting close to the big leagues, then I could see a deal coming together. Cleveland might also want one of the younger pitching prospects like Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, or Brandon Woodruff in a trade as they are all big league ready.
Would the Milwaukee Brewers be willing to part with the package necessary to convince Cleveland to part with one of their stud starting pitchers? I have no idea. But they’ll be costly for anyone and the Indians are willing to listen and negotiate in trade talks.
The Indians have thrown a wrench into the offseason with their willingness to talk on these players. Outside of Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin, the free agent market is lacking impact starting pitchers. With these two on the trade block, it provides a nice fallback option for the teams that lose out on the high bidding for Keuchel and Corbin.
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With the offseason just getting started, there will be options galore for GM David Stearns to improve this team for 2019.