Indians GM looking to make trade in tough market
The Indians are in the market for a trade before the July 31 deadline.
But to this point, general manager Chris Antonetti hasn't found a partner - and isn't confident he will.
With his team within three games of first-place Detroit in the AL Central entering the weekend, Antonetti is exploring ways to improve the Indians, who began a stretch of 14 home games in 17 days on Friday.
Antonetti wants to add a piece - perhaps a quality hitter, starter or left-handed reliever - but hasn't been able to find the right deal.
And as the deadline draws near, Antonetti said he's not sure he'll change Cleveland's roster.
What are the chances?
''I'm neither optimistic or pessimistic,'' Antonetiti said. ''I'm working through the realities of the market. If it bears the right deal that makes sense and that will improve us, we'll make the deal. But if there's not the right deal, we're not going to make a trade just to say we made a trade.''
The Indians (53-48) have managed to stay on the Tigers' tail despite some inconsistency all season. Cleveland came out flat after the All-Star break and went just 2-4 on a trip to Minnesota and Seattle, committing nine errors in the six games.
The starting pitching has settled down - a 6-2 record and 1.92 ERA in the past 13 games - but the Indians' bullpen continues to be a problem.
Antonetti said it's an area he would like to address, especially in getting out left-handed hitters.
One of the issues Antonetti is facing as he tries to make a trade is a landscape that has been altered by the addition of a second wild-card team.
''It's definitely had an impact, at least in our view,'' he said. ''We looked at the 30 teams and you can make an argument there are 24 maybe, even 25 teams, that are either buying or at least holding onto players and only a select handful of teams are willing to trade off major-league players.
''It's further complicated for us by one or more of those teams (Minnesota and Chicago) who are willing to sell players are in our division.''
Also, under terms of the newest labor agreement, teams are no longer compensated with draft picks for players they acquire who become free agents. So it's tougher to ''rent'' a player for the pennant race.
''It has had impact on the value equation,'' Antonetti said. ''In the past, if you traded a player who was approaching the end of his contract, you knew there was an opportunity at the end of that year to offer arbitration and potentially get a draft pick to backfill some of the talent you may have traded. Obviously, that's no longer in place so that can impact the caliber of players you are willing to give up.''
The Indians have some assets, and one of them is mentioned in nearly every trade Antonetti discusses.
Shortstop Franciso Lindor, recently promoted to Double-A Akron, is considered one of the game's top prospects.
And while adding him to a trade might bring the Indians an impact player, Cleveland wants to hang on to the young phenom, who is batting .441 (15 of 34) since he was promoted.
''The industry recognizes how special a player Francisco is and I think that aligns with how we feel about him,'' Antonetti said.
Indians manager Terry Francona is trying to stay clear of the trade talk. He's confident Antonetti will do what's best for the club.
''My job is to try to take whoever Chris has acquired and try to get us to play the best baseball we can and I've been enjoying the heck out of it,'' he said. ''I know he's working hard and I know we're not the perfect team, but I like what we are and how we try to play the game, so I'll just show up and whatever we have, let's try to win.
''It's funny because I think we're good enough to win. I just know we have to play very good baseball. When I say win, I mean be a successful team. But our margin for error may be less than other teams.''