With Corey Kluber surely out for a while, the Cleveland Indians are now atop the list of likely MLB trade deadline sellers.
After winning the AL Central again last year, the Cleveland Indians rested on their laurels and let their lineup be thinned by departures. With an enviable starting rotation from top to bottom, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and company were going to be the driving force for the Indians winning the division again.
The Indians have, with their offseason departures and a few early injuries, struggled offensively so far this year. They are one of two teams in the American League averaging less than four runs per game, and they are at or near the bottom of every other category except stolen bases.
Cleveland’s pitching has been good, despite Mike Clevinger being sidelined by a back injury since his second start. Clevinger is expected to be out until around the All-Star break, and he may not even pick up a baseball for another month.
But in the fifth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Miami Marlins, the moment the Indians became sellers on the trade market seemed to arrive.
An exact timetable for Kluber’s recovery should come on Thursday. But several weeks looks like a minimum, and it’s possible the two-time Cy Young Award winner will miss the rest of the season.
Cleveland is now down at two-fifths of their starting rotation for the next two months, and perhaps longer if Clevinger has any setbacks and Kluber’s diagnosis comes in on the more severe end. Danny Salazar (shoulder) also has yet to pitch this season, and even if he comes back when he first could in June his contribution can’t be counted on.
Bauer, essentially the Indians’ co-ace with Kluber, is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2020 season and he has said he won’t sign long-term deals. Trade rumors surfaced around Kluber and Bauer during the offseason, and with Kluber injured Bauer will now become a prime target for contending teams.
The Indians are only 2.5 games back of the division-leading Minnesota Twins entering Thursday, so essentially throwing in the towel on this season feels like an aggressive step. The idea they’d be a seller at the trade deadline has been out there though, and with Kluber sidelined the timetable for that move into sell-mode could move up several weeks as the Indians inevitably fade from contention.