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Brewers linked to Indians’ rotation surplus

Cleveland wants to fill other needs by dealing from their starting staff.

Divisional Round - Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians - Game Three Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians want us to believe that they are cash poor this winter, and as such they are marketing members of their talented starting rotation in an effort to shore up multiple other areas on their roster. Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Indians were discussing a potential deal that would send Corey Kluber to the Dodgers in exchange for a package including Yasiel Puig and other notable pieces.

In addition to the Dodgers, Morosi lists two other clubs in connection to Cleveland’s rotation surplus:

The Brewers and Braves are two more potential trade partners for the Indians if they move a starter. While the Braves and Indians are not currently in active talks, one source said, Atlanta has pitching prospects (including right-hander Kyle Wright) that appeal to Cleveland. The Brewers possess both young pitching depth and outfielders (Corey Ray and Keon Broxton) who fit the Indians’ needs.

Cleveland has made Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer all available in trades, with the goal of trading one starter to “to add young talent to an experienced core while freeing up payroll space to pursue necessary outfield and bullpen upgrades.”

Bauer, who turns 28 in January, was the best performer of the trio in 2018. He broke out to the tune of a 2.21 ERA and and a 58 FIP- in 175.1 innings, with marks of 11.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. He has two more years of arbitration control before becoming a free agent.

Carrasco, 32 next spring, is also controlled for another two seasons via the early career extension he signed back in 2015. He’ll earn $9.75 mil in 2019 with a $9.5 mil team option for 2020. His track record of success is much lengthier than Bauer’s, as Carlos has posted sub-3.70 earned run averages in each season dating back to 2014. This past year, he authored a 3.38 ERA and 69 FIP- across 192.0 innings, striking out 10.8 batters per nine while yielding only 2.0 BB/9.

Kluber, of course, is the golden goose of the trio, with two Cy Young Awards in his back pocket. He turns 33 next April and is controlled for three more seasons via his own extension, earning $17 mil in 2019 before a pair of options - $17.5 mil in 2020, and $18 mil in 2021. He turned in another stellar campaign in 2018, leading the American League with 215 innings pitched while compiling a 2.89 ERA, 74 FIP-, 9.3 K/9, and a minuscule 1.4 BB/9.

For the Brewers, Bauer and Carrasco would surely be the more attainable targets if MLB-ready players are what the Indians seek. A package could be built around someone like a Burnes/Woodruff/Peralta, and in addition to Corey Ray and Keon Broxton as Morosi mentioned, Domingo Santana could be another outfielder to pique Cleveland’s interest. If the Brewers wanted to get involved in the Kluber sweepstakes, though, it stands to reason that they would have to make someone like Hader and probably top prospect Keston Hiura available in talks.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs