When the Indians acquired right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez at the 2011 non-waiver deadline, their farm system was the seventh-best in the majors, according to the preseason rankings in Baseball America. Jimenez, meanwhile, was no mere rental — he was under club control, at below-market salaries, through 2014.
The Indians, 3½ games behind the division-leading Tigers at the time, actually were further out of first place than they are now. But even though their current deficit is a mere 2½ games, it probably doesn’t make sense for them to make a big play for Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.
The team’s farm system ranked only 20th in the most recent Baseball America rankings. And Garza, unlike Jimenez two years ago, would be strictly a rental. The Indians could not even make him a qualifying offer to gain draft-pick compensation; potential free agents who are traded in the middle of a season are exempt from such offers.
Given all that – and the Tigers’ potential to run away with the AL Central – the Indians are unlikely to dip into their thin prospect pool to acquire Garza for 10 to 12 starts. Particularly when the difference between Garza and the pitcher he replaces probably would not be enough to push the Indians past the Tigers.
In fact, the Indians currently are more focused on adding a reliever than a starter, according to major-league sources. Their internal rotation options include right-hander Danny Salazar, who excelled in his major-league debut against the Blue Jays on Thursday, allowing one earned run in six innings.
Righty Zach McAllister, recovering from a sprained right middle finger, is expected to be activated shortly after the All-Star break. And righties Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer currently are at Triple A.
As for the bullpen, part of its problem is that the starters have thrown the fourth-lowest number of innings in the AL, causing the relievers to be overworked. At various points this season, the Indians have gone with eight relievers and only three bench players.
Closer Chris Perez is 5-for-5 in save chances with a 1.13 ERA since returning from shoulder soreness on June 28. But right-hander Vinnie Pestano, who spent time on the DL with right elbow tendinitis, has a 5.66 ERA since his return on May 17.