Well, we now know closer Aroldis Chapman won’t be a member of the Cleveland Indians this season.
The past few days were filled with speculation claiming not only was the Tribe going after the fire-ball throwing Cuban, but it might have even had the best offer on the table to acquire him. However, the New York Yankees instead went with the Chicago Cubs, who offered a large package of prospects in exchange for Chapman.
While I’m glad the Indians didn’t give up as much as the Cubs did, there’s no denying the fact we’re fast approaching the trade deadline. Cleveland has until August 1 to swing a deal and bring in some help for what will hopefully be the team’s first trip to the playoffs in three years.
Though I think the Indians will pull the trigger on a trade, I grow more concerned about one thing as the deadline nears and we continue hearing nothing but rumors that go nowhere. I’m starting to get worried Cleveland may be overvaluing its prospects, something it just isn’t in the position to do.
I should clarify something before moving forward – in my eyes, there are indeed untouchable prospects within the Indians’ farm system. These are guys who should not be moved unless the team comes across a deal for a big-name player it can have under contract for the next few seasons.
I’m referring to Cleveland’s top four prospects – Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier, Bobby Bradley, and Brady Aiken. There are big plans for each of these players, and the Tribe has to resist any offer other teams try to make for one of them if possible.
At the same time, in recent years the Indians have been very protective of their prospects. More often than not, the Tribe gets gun-shy including a top 10-15 member of its farm system in order to acquire someone who could help the team right away. Other than the notorious Ubaldo Jimenez deal of 2011, where Cleveland gave away its two best pitching prospects, big moves are rarely made.
However, when’s the last time the Indians were in this position, owning one of the best records in the league and in position for a deep postseason run? It’s been quite a while, and it’s not a position the Tribe needs to take for granted. The time has finally come for the Indians to play for the present instead of holding out for the future.
As a result, the Indians are going to have to accept the fact that a few of their favorite prospects will need to be included if they want to make a big trade.
I’d like to think I’m not saying anything the team doesn’t know. At the same time, the Tribe has found its name in numerous trade rumors through the past few days, yet nothing’s come to fruition. This, of course, could be the result of the other team asking too much. At the same time, it might also be due to the fact Cleveland backed down when a favorite prospect was brought up.
The bright side is the Indians aren’t in a position where they even need to consider moving one of their best farm players. The team has done this well so far, and doesn’t need a go-for-broke addition to complete the puzzle.
However, this doesn’t mean the Tribe can approach the deadline only expecting to move spare parts at the most. Cleveland needs bullpen help and another bat, and there are solid options available. Many of them, though, will require parting with a notable name.
This is why the Indians can’t get too miserly with their prospects. Guys like Mike Clevinger and Francisco Mejia will come up and, provided they net a good return, Cleveland may be wiser to let them go.
Last weekend’s dud of a series against the Baltimore Orioles proved the Indians aren’t where they need to be just yet. Trades will need to be made, and if they want returns which will push them over the top, the Indians will have to avoid putting too high of a price tag on the majority of their prospects.