Yesterday Buster Olney reported that due to budget constraints related to their market, the Cleveland Indians are willing to listen to offers for some of their biggest stars. The names they are making available are significant: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Edwin Encarnacion, among others.
Setting aside the notion of “market constraints”, this is an interesting opportunity for the Yankees. The Indians have in abundance what the Yankees desperately need: quality starting pitching. Yes, the Bombers should be looking to upgrade their rotation through the free agent market where they can, but the possibility of swinging a deal with the Indians can’t be ignored.
Look at things this way. The best starting pitcher available on the market is Patrick Corbin, a solid starter coming off of a career year with a clear link to New York. Signing him is absolutely a goal the front office should have, but Corbin alone isn’t enough to set up the rotation compared to the rest of the contenders in the American League. More importantly, Corbin himself may not be a true ace, which is something that the Yankees could obtain in dealing with Cleveland.
, a two-time Cy Young award winner, is the gem that the Yankees would be most interested in. Kluber followed up his latest Cy Young Award in 2017 with a 20-win campaign, pitching to a 2.89 ERA with 222 strikeouts in 215 innings. He is signed through 2019, and has team options for 2020 and 2021, which would be critical in acquiring him. The max amount of money that those options could be is $17.5 and $18 million respectively, which will more than likely be extremely cheap compared to the contracts handed out this offseason.
Of course, all of this means that the cost to acquire Kluber would and should be astronomical. Trading for Kluber would likely be a farm-gutting move, one that fully ends the youth movement and puts the Yankees into a win-now window. It’s exactly the type of move that the Yankees should be looking for, though.
We only need to look towards our rivals for how well a trade of this magnitude can work out. A season after adding David Price to their rotation, the Red Sox went out and traded for a stud in Chris Sale. Sale turned around and delivered Cy Young worthy seasons for the Sox in 2017 and 2018, and was strong in the postseason this year.
The Sale trade featured a prospect haul that was heavy on top-ranked prospects going to Chicago. The Yankees, unfortunately, don’t have the highly ranked headliner to do a trade like that. Any conversation would likely start with Justus Sheffield (ironically a former Indians farmhand), Esteban Florial, and would include several others. But the high cost of entry shouldn’t scare the Yankees away from considering it. They were in the mix on the Sale deal back then, before they were even contenders. In the position they’re in heading into 2019, they have to weigh the option now that they’re truly prepared to benefit from it.