The Cleveland Indians are looking to trim their payroll without losing a competitive edge in their division. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are two names that continuously arise as candidates they’re willing to include in possible trade talks. Can you imagine Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber as your 1-2-3 pitchers in the rotation? But will the asking price be too steep?
The Indians will most likely want a few top prospects, along with an outfielder that could give them some immediate production. With the likely loss of Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall to free agency, they’ll have a major void to fill in the outfield.
The Astros have a talented pool of prospects and might have what the Indians are seeking. Assuming Kyle Tucker is off the table, Yorden Alvarez, ninth in the top ten outfield prospects of the MLB Pipeline, might be right up their alley. Houston also has Jake Marisnick and Tony Kemp as possible bargaining chips.
Kluber’s numbers and accolades speak for themselves. In 2018 the 32-year-old started 33 games and ended the season with a record of 20-7. He sported an ERA of 2.89 and struck out 222 batters in 215 innings of work. Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and came in third in the voting, right behind Justin Verlander, on this year’s ballot. He’s been selected to participate in the AL All-Star team the last three years.
Interestingly enough, Kluber is set to make $17.5 million in 2019 with a $1 million buy-out. That’s less than the $17.9 million qualifying offer Dallas Keuchel declined. His salary will increase to $18 million in 2020, the final year of his current contract before becoming a free agent. That sounds like a bargain for a pitcher of his caliber.
The Astros may have to give up some of their top prospects and possibly an outfielder on their current roster. But they have plenty of talent in their farm system and losing a few shouldn’t jeopardize Houston’s future. Plus, if Keuchel signs with another team, they’ll be awarded a 2019 draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B as compensation, to help ease the blow.