The Cleveland Indians‘ four-game losing streak came to a merciful end last night. While the victory was both nice and much-needed, the Indians need to do far more than pull off a win against a San Francisco Giants team which did everything it could to hand the game over to convince people they’re back on track. This is still the same team which has half heartedly slogged through 91 games this season, only looking like a true contender in short bursts.
It’s also a team many expect to make a big splash before the July 31 trade deadline passes. Thanks to being in an AL Central division so bad a 48-43 record puts you in first place, the Indians are still a potential playoff team.
That said, should Cleveland acquire a big-name player like pitcher Sonny Gray, it’ll have to part with some top-tier prospects. Many are of the belief no major trade can be made without the Indians dealing the best name in their farm system – catcher Francisco Mejia.
Parting with someone of Mejia’s talent will be difficult to swallow, but it’s something the team will need to evaluate in any upcoming deals. Cleveland will obviously factor in just what exactly it’s getting in return.
However, there’s another thing the Indians front office needs to consider before moving Mejia, a reality which is a bit harsh right now.
Quite frankly, is this a team which is one big trade away from being a World Series contender?
It sounds difficult to fathom, considering how quickly windows of contention close in pro sports. It also sounds ludicrous to say aloud when discussing a team which would indeed make the playoffs if the season ended today.
At the same time, if Cleveland’s higher-ups are to trade a top prospect, they also need to know said deal is going to be the final piece to push this team over the edge.
Right now, the Tribe has more than a few problems to fix before considering itself right on the cusp of a championship. As a result, the front office should be hesitant to gut the farm for a trade which could be unable to solve these issues.
Admittedly, one of Cleveland’s biggest struggles through this season has been getting consistency from the starting rotation. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have been steady more often than not, but outside of these two the Indians haven’t been able to find much stability.
Acquiring Gray would obviously help this problem.
However, would it fix the poor hitting Cleveland is getting from anyone not named Jose Ramirez or Michael Brantley? Would it fix the fact the team doesn’t have a single catcher it can rely upon offensively? Would it fix the fact Cleveland is one of the worst hitting teams with runners in scoring position?
Said issues have been plaguing this team all season long, which makes it tough to believe shipping key prospects for a great starting pitcher will be a viable solution. Likewise, if the Indians instead decide to sell the farm for an offensive boost, the issues with the rotation remain.
Understandably, this comes off as a bit doomsayer. Numerous pundits and second-half projections alike expect the Tribe to get its act together soon.
The length of which these issues have lasted, though, remains concerning. It’s something the front office definitely has to keep in mind as we near the end of the month.
When forced to decide whether or not you’re willing to part with a prospect as talented as Mejia or Triston McKenzie, you also have to ask yourself about your team as currently assembled. Are the Indians playing like a team you can bet on? Are they worth selling the farm for to acquire a piece or two to help get back to the World Series?
Right now, I’m not sure. Gun to my head, I’d say no.
Cleveland has been lifeless during the majority of the season, looking nothing like the scrappy club we saw last year which went on a 14-game winning streak and gutted its way to the final innings of the World Series. This year’s iteration instead struggles to defeat teams it should dominate, while also boasting an offense which only seems to work part time.
It needs to be said there’s still time to correct the numerous issues. Heck, perhaps a marquee deal is the kind of thing which would shake this clubhouse out of the doldrums.
However, unless there’s a trade to be made which brings consistency to the rotation, forces struggling core players to start hitting and gets the team as a whole shifted out of cruise control, the trade market won’t be the sole solution for Cleveland.
While the front office will spend the coming days evaluating potential deals, the players in the Indians clubhouse need to prove they’re worth investing in this year.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook