For the past few years, the Cleveland Indians have revamped their roster by trading high-profile players for upcoming talent. The 2011 trade deadline is different. The Tribe is in contention and will be buyers instead of sellers this time around. Upgrades need to be made in areas of power-hitting and outfield. Due to the injuries the Tribe’s been facing, these areas need to be improved for a playoff run during the 2011 campaign. Some of these outfielders are not necessarily on the trading block, but that doesn’t mean they are untouchable. Potential trade partners are sure to be looking for top prospects, which is something the Indians can bring to the table.
Players of interest (in no order of importance):
Ryan Ludwick (.241/11 HR/61 RBI)
Outlook: Ludwick has been mentioned in many trades. The San Diego Padres are shopping the young slugger and looking for promising prospects in return, which is something the Indians have to offer. A deal for Ludwick would bolster the Tribe’s lineup, while filling a need in the outfield while Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo heal injuries. Ludwick’s 61 RBIs on a poor team is representative of what he can bring to the table.
Adam Jones (.284/17 HR/58 RBI)
Outlook: Jones has not been mentioned in many trade talks, but could be available for the right price. The Baltimore Orioles are once again struggling and may be willing to ship the 25-year-old center fielder. The Cleveland Indians farm system is rich with promising prospects, which could entice the Orioles into making a deal.
Melky Cabrera (.294/12 HR/57 RBI)
Outlook: The once high-profile Yankees slugger has drifted off into oblivion with the Kansas City Royals. Cabrera is still producing, but the notoriety is no longer there. Cabrera should be seeking a trade to compete in the postseason. A trade to the Tribe would result in the third addition of the name Cabrera to the player’s lineup. A trade for Cabrera is possible, and something the Tribe’s front office should explore.
Josh Willingham (.241/13 HR/50 RBI)
Outlook: Willingham is another player who is openly being shopped at the deadline. Similar to Ludwick, Willingham is a producer on a struggling team, the Oakland A’s. Willingham would bolster the Tribe’s lineup while filling a need in the outfield. This may not be the addition to bring a championship to Cleveland this year, but he would be a welcome addition with the injuries to the outfield. If Willingham goes to the Tribe, more moves or player development will be needed to win a World Series.
Ty Wigginton (.256/13 HR/40 RBI)
Outlook: Wigginton has been mentioned in many of rumors. Although he is not an outfielder, Wigginton is a productive hitter, and has played the outfield for the Colorado Rockies this season. Wigginton and Willingham are in the same boat. Both are not necessarily considered the missing piece to a World Series visit, but would be welcome additions to an ailing lineup.
Jeff Francoeur (.239/13 HR/60 RBI)
Outlook: Much like Wigginton and Willingham, Francoeur is on a struggling team, the Royals, but is producing a large amount of RBIs. He could come to the Tribe at a price the front office is willing to pay. The Kansas City Royals may capitalize from their two free-agent outfielders, Cabrera and Franceouer, not in the win column, but in the prospects they may acquire in trades for them. A move the Indians have used in the past to perfection.
Alfonso Soriano (.250/15 HR/43 RBI)
Outlook: A great player who has outlasted his welcome in Chicago. He has a hefty price tag in terms of contract and what the Cubs will want in return. Although considered a reach for the Tribe, Soriano would fill a much needed role as a great hitter and left fielder. An outfield of Soriano, Sizemore and Choo places the Tribe in elite company. The Indians have the prospects to bring Soriano to Cleveland but do they have the willingness to pay his salary? The unfortunate answer is, probably, no.
Carlos Beltran (.289/15 HR/65 RBI)
Outlook: The veteran New York Met is having another fine season. The Mets appear ready to part ways with Beltran, which is great news for the Tribe. Beltran is a great fit. He brings leadership, experience and a bat that strikes fear in opposing pitchers. Although the Tribe would have to give up quality prospects for a veteran hitter, Beltran could be the missing piece for a World Series run this season. A risk the Indians may be hesitant to take given their previous dealings.
Matt Kemp (.311/24 HR/73 RBI)
Outlook: Kemp is having a fantastic season, near the top of the league in nearly every hitting category. Not mentioned in many trade talks, the Indians may want to see the interest the L.A. Dodgers have in moving the young, slugging outfielder. The Tribe should be willing to part ways with many of their top prospects for Kemp. The reasoning is the Tribe could only hope that any of these prospects reach Kemp’s productivity. That reason may keep the Dodgers from accepting. A package of prospects with the addition of a Michael Brantley, or even Fausto Carmona, may make the deal possible. A lineup starting with Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera and Kemp is among the best in baseball. This is a trade the Indians should heavily consider if Kemp is available.
B.J. Upton (.229/15 HR/53 RBI)
Outlook: Although struggling with his average this year, Upton is a dynamic outfielder who carries a powerful bat. At 26, Upton is still coming into his own, despite the Rays eagerness to trade him. Upton would be a welcome addition to the Tribe lineup. His presence would create a forceful, exciting group at the top of the Tribe lineup. The Rays appear ready to trade Upton, and the Indians will be interested.