The Good, Bad and Ugly Names The Indians Should Be Targeting in the Trade Market

By: T.J. Zuppe

As the calendar turns to July and the trade deadline looms at the end of the month, the Indians have several decisions to make in the upcoming weeks. The team has to weigh the importance of winning now and the availability of help to be acquired through external moves.

General manager Chris Antonetti has said on several occasions that the front office will look for ways to improve the ball club if the team continues to win. Well, more than three months into the season, the Indians are still in first place.

Dodgers Outfielder Matt Kemp

Antonetti recently spoke with members of the media regarding the topic. Not only did he say the front office is beginning to move forward on a thought process towards possible deals, he also added team ownership has encouraged them to do so.

Even though the club’s best bet is to continue to wait on a less cloudy picture in the standings, it is never too early to target the names that could be had on the trade market. What is paramount becomes placing those names into categories of defined possibilities.

Here are some players the Tribe should (and should not) be targeting over the next few weeks, and the realistic chances of the Tribe acquiring him. (Stats updated as of Wednesday, July 6th)

Too Rich For My Blood:

Houston Astros – OF – Hunter Pence – .327, 10 HR, 57 RBI, OPS: .870

Los Angeles Dodgers – OF – Matt Kemp – .325, 22 HR, 64 RBI, OPS: 1.017

Los Angeles Dodgers – OF – Andre Eithier – .317, 7 HR, 31 RBI, OPS: .843

All three would be excellent additions at the right price. But, there lies the problem; the price. Not only do they command higher salaries than the team would like to pay, but they will not be had for cheap. All three would command top-notch prospects in return, such as pitchers Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, infielder Jason Kipnis and many more. With all three set to make a major impact in Cleveland over the next two years, the price for any of the above would be much too costly for what the club is willing to offer.

Not Worth My Time:

Los Angeles Dodgers – 3B – Casey Blake – .243, 4 HR, 18 RBI, OPS: .731

Free Agent – INF – Melvin Mora – .228, 0 HR, 16 RBI, OPS: .520

Baltimore Orioles – 1B – Derek Lee – .233, 6 HR, 22 RBI, OPS: .634

Batlimore Orioles – DH – Vladimir Guerrero – .279, 6 HR, 28 RBI, OPS: .693

Oakland Athletics – OF – Josh Willingham – .231, 10 HR, 42 RBI, OPS: .718

New York Mets – OF – Jason Bay – .252, 6 HR, 28 RBI, OPS: .695

You could make a case that all of the above would be an upgrade over the slim pickings on the Tribe bench. While that could potentially be the case, none are significant enough to warrant a look. Both Blake and Mora are over the hill and would only slow the development of third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, and second basemen Cord Phelps and Kipnis. While Bay could use change of scenery, his large contract is nowhere near “take a chance” territory. All the above would do is present more headaches for the big league club. There is a reason why they can be had for next to nothing. Just say no.

You’ve got my attention:

San Diego Padres – OF – Ryan Ludwick – .251, 10 HR, 52 RBI, OPS: .705

The former Indian could provide some pop from right side and can play everyday in right field. However, a downside to view could be his strike out numbers. Adding more whiffs to the middle of the order could be something to avoid. Overall: Worth a phone call.

Chicago Cubs – OF – Reed Johnson – .328, 4 HR, 22 RBI, OPS: .928

While he may not be an everyday option in the outfield, Johnson does put the bat on the ball. Paired in a platoon, would fill in very well in the absence of Shin-Soo Choo.

Kansas City Royals – OF – Jeff Francoeur – ..265, 12 HR, 53 RBI, OPS: .763

He has never truly been able to reach his potential consistently, but has put together a solid season in Kansas City. Could the push of a playoff run propel him to more consistent play? He could have the lowest price tag of the bunch.

Minnesota Twins – OF – Michael Cuddyer – .291, 12 HR, 37 RBI, OPS: .831

On paper an instant upgrade, but Cuddyer probably will not be had as cheaply as others on the list. Not only are the Twins still trying to decide if they are buyers or sellers, but it will take a better set or prospects to convince Minnesota to help within their own division. He is also a free agent at season’s end, making him more of a rental.

Kansas City Royals – OF – Melky Cabrera – .283, 11 HR, 48 RBI, OPS: .780

Probably the hidden gem of the bunch, Cabrera’s name continues to surface. Still realizing his complete potential, the former Yankee farm hand has really put together a heck of a season in Kansas City. Still with youth on his side, Cabrera could help for multiple seasons if the team decided to sign him at the end of the season. If the Royals do not feel like he is part of their core moving forward, he should be relentlessly targeted by the Tribe.

Those are just a few names to keep an eye on over the next three weeks. While it is fun to project who may be available, the Indians best decision should be to remain patient.

More teams will fall out of the race and decide to sell off pieces to the highest bidder.

The most important part to keep in mind: trade deadline moves rarely have the impact they appear. Any move made will be for a contributor, not an offensive savior.

The most important players to the Tribe’s success in the second half are already on the roster. If it is those returning from injury, or the underperforming playing more to their normal level, it will fall most on their shoulders to improve their own play.



  1. Ok so lets be honest here unless its just one of those things like the Florida Marlins i n the past.The Tribe are not going to win the world series or even get there.That being said the guys that u like id rather not even have to be honest becasue they are all just average at best bats and will not help up us that much.Id rather just keep whoever we would trade for them….However if the Dolans wanted to be sneaky ( for lack of a better term because cant think of what i really wanna say here) i would love to get Either or Pence and of course Kemp but i think he would cost way to much.I wouldnt mind giving up one of the top 3 at all.We need a stud OF we do not have one at all including Choo who is entirely overrated! We obviously have pitching to give up so lets do it,throw in Choo or Sizemore and lets get Pence,Either or Kemp! Come on Dolans get some balls and shock the world at the same time!

  2. Melky is the guy I want… i think he is really starting to break out and can pretty much do it all. He’s one guy who when I face I just feel he’s going to get a hit every time. Reminding me of Paul O’Neill.

    If we can get him and don’t have to give up anything significant, do it now!

  3. The problem with both Ludwick and Cuddyer is the fact that both are free agents at the end of the season. Given their track records they’ll probably want to get contracts worth more than what the Indians are willing to offer. Me personally I’d go with Melky as my top option and put him in right. My second choice surprisingly would be Willingham. Ya, his average is lacking, but he’s hitting well over .300 with runners in scoring position which is something the Indians are lacking right now. He’d also probably be a hell of a lot cheaper than Cabrera.

  4. What a GREAT breakdown, TJ! Heard you on the RBS Monday as well…you need your own slot at WKNR sooner then later. Oh wait, I heard Brinda yelling at a caller the other day as he was hanging up on him saying “that he wasn’t going ANYWHERE”. If ever someone needed “Wally Pipped”…it’s Bacon Brinda.

    Great points in the blog – I am hoping Hafner starts to rake with the NL roadie done, LaPorta gets rockin’ (nice start last night) and the overall strength of the pitching staff coninues!

  5. Excellent breadown…what about Marlon Byrd ? Let’s rule out lefties. Way too many now and more being mentioned like Jason Kubel and Fukodome. I could live with Cuddyer, Melky or Francouer, especially Cuddyer. Carlos Lee ?

  6. Anyone being a FA at the end of the year like Cuddyer or Ludwick would factor in. I don’t want a rent-a-gun only till the end of the year.

  7. Great post. I don’t think that the Indians will make any moves at the deadline, we’re not a serious contender by any stretch, but I think that the options you give are solid if the Tribe decides to try and make a push for the post-season. As long as we don’t give up the talent in the minors for a one-and done post season appearance I’m fine.

  8. We definitely can not give up any of our minor league prospects just win a game in the ALDS. I would very much like to see Melky and Willingham in our lineup.
    WTF is with Sizemore. He get hurt more than Griffey. Going all-out is what sports is all about, but at what point is it hurting your team??? We really need that guy in the line up on a consistent basis……. Maybe next year?

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