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Thursday, November 15, 2018

AL Central Offseason Preview

Kluber will be 33, but he’s a Cy Young finalist after going 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 2018. He’s signed through 2021 (including club options for 2020 and 2021) at below-market rates for a pitcher of his caliber, so he’s an attractive trade target.

Trading Kluber would be insane to me. Cleveland’s window is now, and they are in probably the weakest division in baseball.

My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: November 15, 2018 at 11:04 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hot stove

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2018 at 12:34 PM (#5787885)
Trading Kluber would be insane to me. Cleveland’s window is now, and they are in probably the weakest division in baseball.

Concur. The whole division looks like crap except Cleveland.

They control Kluber and Bauer through 2021, Carrasco through 2020, and Clevinger through 2022. They should be all in on the next three years.

With that rotation, you've got a real shot at the World Series every year.
   2. maccoach57 Posted: November 15, 2018 at 01:03 PM (#5787917)
Yeah, I don't get this type of thinking with Cleveland. They last won the World Series during the Truman Administration; they should be trying to get a better team behind Kluber.
   3. BillWallace Posted: November 15, 2018 at 01:15 PM (#5787928)
I agree, trading Kluber would be a really bad signal for baseball, unless it's a baseball trade where they get back another star.
   4. villageidiom Posted: November 15, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5787984)
I'm not going to argue that Cleveland's window isn't now, because it is. And I'm not going to argue that the AL Central is the weakest division, because it is.

But to me the Twins and - can't believe I'm saying this - the Royals aren't that far from competing. As mentioned in TFA the Royals' second half roster was substantially different from the first half, and they got substantially different (albeit mediocre) results in the second half. Either of those teams making a few moves will narrow the gap with Cleveland.

Of course, that makes it more imperative that Cleveland make moves to bolster their team and improve their chances in the playoffs (and/or discourage the Twins/Royals from making moves to narrow the gap).
   5. Walt Davis Posted: November 15, 2018 at 02:31 PM (#5787989)
On the other hand, the division is such crap, Cleveland may not need Kluber to win it. They are weak at 1B, 2B (or 3B), across the OF and not so hot at DH. 2-3 OF spots are currently unfilled (Leonys Martin was signed for 2019) and they won't even have the physical presence of EE, Alonso or Kipnis after this year. Their once vaunted bullpen not only stank this year but also Allen and Miller are FAs.

They have Carrasco, Bauer and Clevenger ... and maybe they think Danny Salazar is healthy. They've certainly shown themselves good at developing starting pitching, so maybe they have a couple of kids on the way (they have one at #38 on mlb's list). If they think they've got a good shot at the WS this year, they can add something at the deadline. They may also be realistically looking at the competition, realizing how far they are behind the Red Sox, Astros and Yankees and talent terms and seeing that as a gap they can't realistically close. (Remember, the AL Central was terrible and Cle was under 500 outside the division with the run differential to match.)

I agree it seems a great time for ownership to jump the payroll to $180 or something but that doesn't seem to be ownership's plan. I agree that I don't think there's a deal out there to get more value for the short term or enough value for the long-term (and I probably wouldn't have the guts to trade him anyway), I can see why they'd consider this as an option.

EDIT: by the way, Kluber is already 15th in career CYA shares, between Johan and Felix. Another win would put him between Scherzer and Palmer.
   6. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 15, 2018 at 03:13 PM (#5788021)
If ownership is concerned about attendance now - and frankly, they probably should be - dumping Kluber's salary in exchange for a truck full of prospects might be the absolute worst thing they can do. IMO, people in Cleveland still haven't really gotten over trading back-to-back CYA winners last decade. Whether or not those trades were smart in baseball terms, they definitely presented a picture of a team that isn't willing to spend for elite talent.

Trading another Cy winner for prospects, particularly at a time in which Cleveland has a real chance to win a pennant or more, would be devastating for fan support.
   7. bfan Posted: November 15, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5788089)
Isn't this a classic case (if they do trade him) of selling high on an aging player? If they are able to get equal value to what the perceived Kluber value is in the market now and they get, say, a very good OF, they may be way better off.
   8. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: November 15, 2018 at 04:55 PM (#5788093)
If they could get 2 or 3 good (young, upside, controllable) offensive pieces for him, I say go for it. They have enough starting pitching without him to win that division for 2 or three years.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 15, 2018 at 07:41 PM (#5788179)
If they could get 2 or 3 good (young, upside, controllable) offensive pieces for him, I say go for it.

That's basically saying, if another team offers a huge overpay, take it. That's true for every player on every team.

What tea even has that to give, with gutting their major league roster?
   10. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: November 16, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5788364)
Nick Senzel, Taylor Trammell, Scott Shebler for Kluber. There is an entire outfield (Trammell needs another season in the minors). Adding Kluber and him having a typical Kluber season might cut 100 runs from the Reds pitching totals...

   11. bfan Posted: November 16, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5788375)
That's basically saying, if another team offers a huge overpay, take it. That's true for every player on every team.


I didn't say it, but I do not think that is accurate.

Just assume you take Kluber's 5.9 WAR and spread in between 2 guys with 3 WAR in field positions where Cleveland has no good alternative (and it sounds as if there are plenty of those). The point is you are adding 6 WAR in value and your drop is the difference between what your 5th starter would give you in 2019 and what Kluber would give you in 2019.

If there is any "overpay", it is, as I have said, you are selling high on an older asset. If someone needs a #1 starter, because their 5th starter (or more) is dreadful, and they have blocked young OF's, they may take a risk that Kluber can repeat his 2018 season for his last 2 contract years.

That isn't an overpay to the acquiring team; they are shifting assets from where they have an abundance to where they have a scarcity.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5788378)
Just assume you take Kluber's 5.9 WAR and spread in between 2 guys with 3 WAR in field positions where Cleveland has no good alternative (and it sounds as if there are plenty of those). The point is you are adding 6 WAR in value and your drop is the difference between what your 5th starter would give you in 2019 and what Kluber would give you in 2019.


Replacing a 6 WAR player with 2 3 WAR players is a downgrade. It's easier to find 2 1-WAR OF than one 2 WAR SP.

Talent is a very steep pyramid. Scarcity is much greater at the top. If I'm trading a 6 WAR player for 2 players, they better be worse 7-8 WAR.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: November 16, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5788385)
Replacing a 6 WAR player with 2 3 WAR players is a downgrade.
Well, there has to be some hypothetical trade of position players for Kluber that is neither a downgrade for Cleveland nor an overpay for the other team.

But I'll agree with you and others that it doesn't really make sense to trade him in any non-hypothetical, plausible deal. They have a great player on a low-risk contract. He seems like a "horse," so I don't even worry too much about his age.

Edit: Mayyyyyybe it could work as a 3-way deal: Team A sends very good prospect assets to Team B. Team B sends good major league position players to Indians. Indians send Kluber to Team A. And if needed some money or bad contracts going one way or another to even it out. Maybe. But I doubt it will happen.
   14. McCoy Posted: November 16, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5788388)
On the other hand, the division is such crap, Cleveland may not need Kluber to win it. They are weak at 1B, 2B (or 3B), across the OF and not so hot at DH. 2-3 OF spots are currently unfilled (Leonys Martin was signed for 2019) and they won't even have the physical presence of EE, Alonso or Kipnis after this year. Their once vaunted bullpen not only stank this year but also Allen and Miller are FAs.

Sounds like Bryant, Schwarber, and Heyward would be the perfect thing for Cleveland. Just send along Kluber and you have a deal.
   15. base ball chick Posted: November 16, 2018 at 11:13 AM (#5788405)
Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 15, 2018 at 03:13 PM (#5788021)

If ownership is concerned about attendance now - and frankly, they probably should be - dumping Kluber's salary in exchange for a truck full of prospects might be the absolute worst thing they can do. IMO, people in Cleveland still haven't really gotten over trading back-to-back CYA winners last decade. Whether or not those trades were smart in baseball terms, they definitely presented a picture of a team that isn't willing to spend for elite talent.


- got that right


Trading another Cy winner for prospects, particularly at a time in which Cleveland has a real chance to win a pennant or more, would be devastating for fan support.


- - agree
and the lousy attendance almost all year long (and previous years too) showed it
fans think ownership isn't willing to spend, which they aren't, to get to the WS

kluber is the no argument about it ace of this team. he is gonna be replaced by, WHO? i sure don't see anyone in the minors who looks anything ace-like



bfan Posted: November 15, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5788089)

Isn't this a classic case (if they do trade him) of selling high on an aging player? If they are able to get equal value to what the perceived Kluber value is in the market now and they get, say, a very good OF, they may be way better off


- selling high, sure

but these are ballplayers and not coins and you can't explain that 5 nickels are worth 1 quarter, because when it comes to people, all that WAR stuff with an active roster, it doesn't work like that.

you can get more OF, but you gotta replace kluber from SOMEwhere. not to mention putting together a bullpen whose highlight is sucking
   16. Walt Davis Posted: November 16, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5788604)
#11 ... but no team has two spare 3-WAR OFs.

#12 ... sure but you've taken no notice of time (or money). Trading a 6-WAR pitcher with 3 years of control for 2 3-WAR OFs with, say, 5 years of control is a good trade, even moreso if that pitcher is 33. But no team has two spare 3-WAR OFs so it's a moot point.

The 6 WAR from 1 player is better than 6 from 2 is obviously true on the margins but realistically only matters if the team is extremely talented or extremely rich. That second 3-WAR player is eating up a roster spot but that roster spot belongs to some replacement-level player and the PT likely comes from some guy who's about a 1-WAR player. Or if you prefer, the 1.5 WAR starter becomes the 1 WAR bench player (reduced PT) who replaces the replacement-level bench player.

So a scenario of a team whose LF just went FA, have a 1.5 WAR CF and bench OFs worth nothing. They trade the 6-WAR pitcher (-6 WAR) get a new LF (+3 WAR), a new CF (+1.5 WAR) and the old CF is the new bench OF (+1 WAR). So 6 WAR gone, 5.5 WAR in -- not positive but hardly impossible to overcome. Then if you have more years of control over the OFs or they are much younger and more reliable than the SP or the other team throws in a B prospect or ... lots of ways that deal works out for the receiving team.

But sure, if you're a rich team and you can pretty easily go out and buy talent then replacing one 6-WAR player with two 3-WAR players is even less optimal.

Realistic(?) trades: Benintendi and some prospects from the Red Sox. (maybe Benintendi and ERod but ERod's arb eligible already with just 3 years control left; Benintendi has 4 years control left). Houston has tons of prospects, so maybe Tucker, Whitley and Bukauskus, assuming Cleveland has faith in their ability to develop pitching (and Bukauskus's health checks out).

But, according to me, one thing driving this would be recognition that they aren't competitive with the Astros and Red Sox so not ideal to make those teams better in the short run. So maybe the Dodgers for Buehler and Bellinger. After that ... the teams with the top prospects are in full rebuild mode (or the Nats with Robles but they kinda need him unless they re-sign Harper maybe). I'm sure the Braves would be happy to put Soroka into a package but I don't think they're gonna put Acuna in one. Soroka and Albies? Soroka, Newcomb and some lower prospects?

Sure, Kluber for Byrant but the Indians don't want to pay Bryan that kind of money and it's break-even in years and WAR. Kluber for Bregman might be fair but again helps the Astros.

Hmmm... Cleveland hasn't developed their pitchers as much as I thought. I knew they didn't draft most of them but I thought they'd acquired them early. But Kluber was acquired just half a season before his debut; Carrasco the same season as his debut; Bauer after his debut. And who knew Carrasco had been around since 2009 -- sure doesn't seem that long. I'm sure they've played a part in having these guys take the final big steps but clearly a focus on the ready/near-ready (Whitley, Soroka) is a good idea.

And to think, the Cards could have had Kluber and another player for Ryan Ludwick.

EDIT: It's probably not clear ... I agree with most of the posters here which is that Cleveland's owners should suck it up, spend, try to win a WS. I can see they probably can't and shouldn't commit 10/$320 (or whatever) to Machado/Harper but extending Brantley for 3-5 years, signing Donaldson for 3 years (he can shift to 1B or DH in 2020 if necessary), kick the tires on Pollock (maybe you can get him on a short, prove-it deal). This fanbase always used to support a winner so attendance doldrums this soon after 2016 is a worrying sign. It might easily be a decade or more before they have a chance this good.

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