Tony Dejak/Associated Press
Cleveland is tied for first place in the American League Central, but it could be the most important seller before Monday’s 4 p.m. ET MLB trade deadline.
A handful of teams have inquired about the status of starting pitcher Mike Clevinger. While dealing a top rotation piece is not ideal, Cleveland can fix one of its top flaws through a trade.
Cleveland needs another power bat in the outfield to compete with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, who hit home runs at will in July and August.
For September to feature a three-way race for the AL Central, Terry Francona’s side may have to part with a top talent and hope other hurlers can step up.
Clevinger was one of many intriguing names mentioned on the rumor mill Sunday night. Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader and Arizona outfielder Starling Marte have reportedly been discussed as trade possibilities, but large player hauls may be necessary to acquire those players.
Top MLB Trade Deadline Reports
Tony Dejak/Associated Press
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, “Cleveland is definitely trading” Clevinger before Monday afternoon’s deadline.
San Diego, who has been the most aggressive team on the trade market so far, was linked as the favorite to claim Clevinger, but Nightengale reported a “mystery team improved their offer” to move ahead of the Padres.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand added that Atlanta is “making an aggressive play” for Clevinger to bolster its depleted rotation.
Clevinger is coming off a six-inning outing in which he struck out six batters and conceded two runs against the Twins.
The right-handed hurler has 21 strikeouts, a 3.18 ERA and has allowed two earned runs or less in three of his four appearances.
He could be viewed as an expendable asset because of the development of Triston McKenzie and Adam Plutko behind Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Carlos Carrasco in the rotation.
By making someone of Clevinger’s status available, Cleveland could receive a major-league outfielder in return to partner Franmil Reyes in the middle of the order.
A year ago, the AL Central side parted ways with Trevor Bauer in a three-way trade with Cincinnati and San Diego, which landed them Reyes.
Reyes’ seven home runs in 2020 are three more than Jordan Luplow, Delino DeShields, Domingo Santana and Tyler Naquin have combined.
Cleveland has hit the sixth-fewest home runs in the majors, while the White Sox and Twins rank in the top 10.
If Cleveland fails to address its outfield need Monday afternoon, it may not have enough power to win the division.
Morry Gash/Associated Press
Hader is not being openly shopped by the Milwaukee Brewers, but teams are checking in to see what his availability is.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Minnesota “checked in” on the southpaw, but the Brewers “would need to be bowled over” to part ways with him.
Nightengale reported that there was “growing sentiment among executives” a departure from the National League Central was possible.
If the 15-18 Brewers are open to trading Hader, he would be the best relief pitcher on the market.
Hader owns a 1.86 ERA, 1.034 WHIP and 14 strikeouts from 10 relief appearances for the third-place side.
The Brewers face a similar conundrum as other potential wild-card contenders contemplating trading their top players.
Although they are three games under .500, they could get hot in September and land one of the eight playoff positions.
But Milwaukee has two fewer wins than the three teams beneath the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and is not guaranteed a playoff spot if the handful of NL East contenders get hot as well.
Since Hader is such a valuable piece to their roster, the Brewers are well within their right to demand the highest price possible for the left-handed reliever.
David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Arizona sits in a less enviable position than Milwaukee, as it is 14-21 and falling further behind the other NL West contenders by the day.
The Diamondbacks are 1-9 in their last 10 games and could be enticed to sell some of their top players to collect a decent haul in return.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, “the Diamondbacks had made clear to rival clubs earlier this month that they would listen on nearly everyone on their roster.”
Piecoro mentioned in his reporting that Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen and Christian Walker were deemed untouchable.
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported the New York Yankees “checked in” with Arizona about Starling Marte.
The Yankees could use an experienced bat in the middle of the order with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the injured list, and they have plenty of major-league ready prospects who could go in the other direction.
Marte has a .322 batting average and .853 OPS this season and could help with the Yankees’ power and speed. He also has 38 hits, 23 runs and five stolen bases.
The Yankees have received decent contributions from Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman with their two stars out, but it never hurts to explore the market if teams are willing to listen.
If Arizona lets Marte leave, it would likely demand a top prospect or two from any organization to keep flowing young talent into its roster.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference