With the MLB Winter Meetings in the not too distant future, could the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians get talking about a possible mega-trade?
On December 9th, Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings will get underway in Las Vegas. Two teams who may use that time to formulate a deal are the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals, with several pieces possibly on the table.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Indians are listening on a whole host of their players this winter in an effort to be better in the long-term. They have several pitchers who could end up interesting the Nationals as Mike Rizzo hopes to bolster his rotation.
Yes, that includes two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, though Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the price is understandably high. Since the start of 2013, only three pitchers have recorded a higher fWAR than Kluber. Those pitchers are Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and Chris Sale, which just goes to show the elite pitcher than Kluber is.
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Kluber is also on an incredibly team friendly contract for such a high-caliber pitcher. He’s set to earn $15 million in 2019 before team options in 2020 and 2021 could give him up to $17.5 million and $18 million respectively, depending on escalators. He would only count for just under $8 million against the luxury tax in 2019, and then at the option values in the following years.
If the Nats can bring Corey Kluber to the nation’s capital, he would instantly help form one of the most fearsome top three starting pitching combinations in recent memory. As Nats GM, Rizzo has never been scared to deal prospects for the right starter. He’s previously dealt highly-regarded prospects for both Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister to bolster the rotation.
So perhaps the best way for the Nationals and Indians to work out a trade could be for the Indians to include other players that fill other needs. While the Nats signed Kurt Suzuki to a two-year deal this month, pairing him with Indians backstop Yan Gomes would be a nice upgrade.
Including Gomes would provide the Indians with some salary relief as he is set to earn $7 million next season and has a team option to earn $20 million over the following two seasons. If we really wanted to get crazy and relieve more salary from Cleveland, we could also include Jason Kipnis, who could upgrade at second base, but we’ll stick to the two players for now.
To get those players, top prospect Carter Kieboom will have to be in the deal, there’s no way around it. He’s nearly ready for the big leagues and the Indians could put him at either second base or third base depending on what they feel is the best combo with MVP finalist Jose Ramirez.
Then when putting together the secondary pieces, with their need in the outfield Michael Taylor or Adam Eaton would make a lot of sense. In this scenario, let’s go with Taylor, seeing as Eaton will be held onto if Bryce Harper leaves. Then, with Gomes coming to D.C. here, Spencer Kieboom would be a nice get to go with his brother and would be a big league regular for them for many years.
Then finally, we can add two more names who are lurking at Double-A and could easily make the big leagues before 2019 is over. Wil Crowe had a breakout 2018 season going 11-0 with the Potomac Nationals, winning the organization’s co-pitcher of the year and projects as a good mid-rotation arm in the future. Finally former minor league player of the year Daniel Johnson would make a lot of sense to help with their outfield depth moving forward too.
Whether this trade is actually close to the Cleveland Indians demands for Corey Kluber and Yan Gomes is another matter. However, the Washington Nationals should definitely be looking to explore a trade for one of the best pitchers in baseball.