The Yankees are on the hunt for an ace and the Indians have two on the trade block. Here’s how New York could acquire Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco.
The news that the Indians are willing to listen for trade offers for quite a few of their veteran stars should put Brian Cashman and the Yankees on high alert. Cleveland’s motivation behind a deal would be cutting payroll, and that’s not a big concern in the Bronx this season.
Specifically, the Yankees should investigate what would be required to deal for either Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco. Both pitchers have the talent to be top-end rotation options for Aaron Boone. Kluber has more name recognition due to his Cy Young Award, but Carrasco isn’t very far behind him. Either hurler would slot comfortably alongside Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka at the top of the Yankee rotation.
The challenge for the Yankees front office is that the Indians have a ton of players on the trade block. ESPN reports that only Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are really untouchable for the Tribe. That puts the Cleveland front office in a relatively enviable position. They can take offers for multiple high-quality players and simply select the moves that net them the best returns.
That means the Yankees have to make highly competitive offers to secure either potential ace. We’re going to take a look at what New York would need to give up to reasonably make a deal for either right-hander.
Let’s start by establishing the fact that age is working against the Indians. Carrasco is 31 and Kluber is already 32-years-old. That’s not going to cause their trade value to plummet, but it will negatively impact it slightly.
For the Yankees, that largely means that Miguel Andujar will probably be off the table. Cashman might be willing to swap the young third basemen in a one-for-one deal for either pitcher, but that’s probably not the sort of haul the Indians want. They’ll be looking for prospects instead.
The difference in asking price for the two pitchers should be relatively small. In our projection, the offers for both stars will only differ by the quality and quantity of secondary prospects.
Here’s exactly what we think it would take to get a deal done for Kluber, the slightly more valuable of the two.
Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial and Chance Adams
As you can see, it’s a hefty price for the Yankees. They’re giving up arguably their top two prospects in the deal. However, both guys have some flaws.
Sheffield’s command is a real issue for the organization. There are starting to be real doubts over whether or not he can remain a starter at the major league level. Obviously, if he’s moved to the bullpen it reduces his value considerably.
Florial is still a relatively hot prospect, but he struggled mightily in the AFL. That’s taken a little shine away from his star. He’s still a high-quality prospect, but he’ll need at least another season or two in the minors before he’s ready to contribute in the big leagues.
Letting Adams go is just a bit of an additional sweetener to push the deal through. The Indians are going to lose a lot of bullpen arms this winter, so he might be able to win a spot there as a middle reliever.
In short, it’s a high price to pay, but it’s the market value for a legitimate ace.
Our deal for Carrasco would just be a little different.
Justus Sheffield, Thairo Estrada
Since Carrasco is a half step below Kluber in terms of production, it only makes sense that the Yankees would offer a little bit less. In this scenario, Cleveland still gets Sheffield, but Florial remains in the Yankee organization.
The Indians would, however, receive an intriguing prospect in Estrada. He may never hit a ton, but his defense should allow him to become a major league regular reasonably soon. He doesn’t necessarily play a position of need for the Tribe, but his value would be too much to pass up.
In the end, look for Cashman to pursue both pitchers very aggressively. Signing Patrick Corbin in free agency isn’t the only thing the Yankees would like to do to upgrade their rotation this winter. Swinging a deal for a legitimate ace would be a huge help to the team’s hopes of overcoming Boston in 2019.