The American League Central is usually an interesting division to watch as the MLB season develops, especially heading into the All-Star break and before the trade deadline. It’s not the best division in terms of depth, but there are usually two or three teams competing at the top, and this season it’s no different between the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Guardians.
The Guardians are 42-44, but they’re also only two games behind the lead for the AL Central. They could still sell off some big pieces at the trade deadline if things start to trend downhill, but as of now, things aren’t 100-percent certain. However, it’s always interesting to see which names could be on the market if and when the Yankees are looking to improve.
Shane Bieber’s name has been tossed around in trade talks for a fair bit of time now, and it’s still very possible that he’s the biggest piece (or, at the very least, one of the biggest pieces) moved at this year’s trade deadline. The 28-year-old right hander and former Cy Young and Triple Crown winner has a record of 5-5 with a 3.66 ERA, 4.14 FIP, and 4.09 xFIP in 18 games. It hasn’t been one of his best seasons so far, but we know the kind of stuff he has, and it can be some of the best in the league.
It would take the Yankees a fair amount to pry Bieber from a fellow American League team, but if things get dire with the rotation outside of Gerrit Cole, they may be looking to add another high-caliber starter.
There are other starting pitchers who the Yankees could look to acquire at the deadline from the Guardians that aren’t Bieber. Aaron Civale, who is currently under a 3.00 ERA, could be another option for general manager Brian Cashman to pursue. Civale will likely see some regression as he’s only started eight games since he was out for a couple months due to an oblique injury, but he could still be an effective addition at the bottom of the rotation.
The same could be said for Cal Quantrill, who has struggled in his starts this season but has been an effective pitcher over his five seasons in the league. He has a career ERA+ of 107, and with the Guardians in particular, he has a career ERA+ of 114. (A shoulder injury that landed Quantrill on the IL today might knock him out of consideration though.)
There are other names the Yankees could pursue from the Guardians, but the likelihood is lower simply because the positions they play are already full to the brim with in-house players trying to get time on the field and at the plate. The offense is also part of the reason why Cleveland has struggled to repeat as division champions.
Amed Rosario at the shortstop position is an upcoming free agent after this season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to see him be traded if the Guardians believe they can get good value for him and/or won’t re-sign him. Whether or not he fits with the Yankees is the big question, and the answer is, he probably doesn’t. But he’s a player who could be on the market when the deadline rolls around if Cashman decides to choose depth at the position.
Josh Bell could also be a player of interest for Cashman. The 30-year-old first baseman and designated hitter is a switch-hitting bat that, for the vast majority of his career, has tallied an OPS+ over 100. His production this season has been below average, but he could be someone who diversifies the Yankees hitting lineup without having to be a first base replacement for Anthony Rizzo or DJ LeMahieu.
The Guardians are certainly a team for Yankees fans to keep an eye on, mainly because of the fluidity of their situation. They could end up being a buyer for all we know, but if something goes sideways, they could be a top team for Cashman to call when the deadline approaches.