Three Trades the Cleveland Guardians Should Consider Making Right Now
As the Cleveland Guardians crawl toward the 40-game mark, one thing is for sure. They won’t be a cellar dweller in the weak American League Central Division, but they aren’t going to be a 90-win team sprinting toward the playoffs.
At 18-20, the Guardians still have lots of baseball left on the schedule. But soon, they must consider making deals that will either help this year’s club or build the farm system for the future.
Here are three trades Cleveland should explore around the season's quarter mark.
Moving On from Franmil Reyes
There’s a lot to love about Franmil Reyes. Since joining Cleveland in 2019, the 26-year-old has hit many long homers, 30 of which came in 2021 alone. But it’s time to consider a change in scenery.
Reyes has been a mainstay in Cleveland’s feast or famine offense, but his contributions have been all famine. Through 34 games, the Dominican slugger is hitting .200 with three home runs and a paltry .540 OPS. Worse yet, he has 56 strikeouts in 130 at-bats, whiffing at a worse pace than league leader Eugenio Suarez (58 Ks in 154 ABs).
Even though Reyes boasts more natural power than anyone in the Guardians lineup, he doesn’t have anything else to contribute. And when the power isn’t there, he becomes one of the game’s worst everyday starters.
Reyes is in the first year of arbitration, meaning he’s under Cleveland’s control through 2024. But the Guardians should think about moving on from the slumping righty and hope he nets some quality return for the farm system.
Call the Cubs About Willson Contreras
Thinking about the Chicago Cubs brings up painful memories of 2016. But the way things are headed, Cleveland would be wise to call the former contenders about their All-Star catcher.
The Cubs committed to the rebuild last year, trading franchise icons Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. But they held onto Willson Contreras, the 30-year-old catcher in the final year of his deal. But with Chicago at 17-24 and nowhere close to contention, moving Contreras ahead of the August trade deadline is almost inevitable for the North Siders.
Contreras is still one of the better all-around backstops in baseball. The Venezuelan has a .258/.382/.458 slash line with five homers in 34 games. Meanwhile, Austin Hedges has produced very little for the Guardians in 2022, compiling a .170 average and .516 OPS.
Contreras wouldn’t cost Cleveland an arm and a leg with his contract up after the season. But his addition to the lineup and the pitching staff could be enough to compete for a division title or one of the three Wild Card spots.
Ask the Pirates for Jose Quintana
Cleveland’s starting pitching has been its strength for a long time, and 2022 is no exception. But the solid performances from Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie are being neutralized by lackluster outings from Zach Plesac and, in particular, Aaron Civale.
For the Guardians to compete in the AL Central, acquiring a dependable veteran for the back end of the rotation is a must. One possible option is Jose Quintana, who’s enjoying a 2.43 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in his first season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Like Contreras, the 33-year-old is languishing on a 17-24 club with months to go before hitting free agency.
Quintana isn’t the pitcher he was during his prime years with the Chicago White Sox. But he’d be a solid fourth or fifth starter on a rotation that doesn’t have any lefties or pitchers older than 27.
For the Guardians to survive down the stretch and remain in contention, they’ll need a cheap vet with something left in the tank. Considering the Pirates will be clear sellers this summer, Quintana shouldn’t be a difficult pitcher to trade for.
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