It’s been reported the Cubs have been talking to the Indians since at least June about acquiring one of Cleveland’s controllable starting pitchers. The Cubs have had conversations about RHP Carlos Carrasco and RHP Danny Salazar. And Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer reportedly pushed hard to make a deal for Carrasco prior to last July’s non-waiver trade deadline.
The Indians are exploring ways to improve their offense. According to Paul Hoynes, the Indians know that in order to help the team’s offense, Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff will have to trade one of their starting pitchers for a bat.
Paul Hoynes detailed the options the Indians have for trade partners. Hoynes ruled out the Giants after landing Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. And the Diamondbacks are no longer an option because of the additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.
The Indians are talking to the Reds, Rockies and Cubs according to Hoynes, and the Astros, Cardinals and Marlins are also looking for starting pitching. Hoynes does not see a match-up with the Indians and Reds on a 1-for-1 deal for Todd Frazier. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are under club control for five years and Frazier can become a free agent in two years. Hoynes said if Frazier “is the best the Indians can do, look for them to keep the rotation intact and turn their attention to free agency.”
The Indians are not looking to acquire prospects. If they move a starting pitcher it would be for players to help the Major League team next season and beyond. And that is “what makes the Cubs such an attractive fit” according to Hoynes.
Hoynes explained that by signing Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, the Cubs have “an excess among their already impressive roster of position players.” The Indians “like several of those players, including outfielders Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and infielder/outfielder Javier Baez.”
Multiple reports have indicated the Indians covet Jorge Soler and Hoynes noted “they’ve liked Soler since he defected from Cuba and signed with the Cubs in 2012.” Soler has been connected to the Indians since June.
Javier Baez has been in reports since the end of the season as a player the Cubs could use in the right deal for a starting pitcher. As for Kyle Schwarber, he is not available. The Cubs have zero plans to trade him.
Hoynes mentioned if the Cubs and Indians worked out a deal, one of the players going back to the Cubs would likely be Lonnie Chisenhall.
Carlos Carrasco turns 29 in March and is coming off a very good season. Carrasco is under club control through the 2020 season on an extremely team-friendly contract. There is a concern in that he completed 183 2/3 innings, a career-high and an increase of just under 50 innings from 2014.
Carrasco was 14-12 in 30 starts with a 3.63 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Carrasco allowed 75 runs, 74 earned, on 154 hits with 43 walks and 216 strikeouts. After the break, Carrasco was 4-5 with a 2.99 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Carrasco struck out 11.2 per nine with 94 strikeouts and 20 walks in 75 1/3 innings.
Last April Carrasco signed a four-year, $22 million extension that includes club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Carrasco’s contract calls for salaries of $4.5 million in 2016, $6.5 million in 2017 and $8 million in 2018. The club option for 2019 is for $9 million and includes a $662,500 buyout. In 2020, Carrasco has a club option for $9.5 million with a $662,500 buyout. The club options may increase by $4 million each based on the way he finishes in the Cy Young voting.
Danny Salazar had an excellent first full year in the majors. Salazar turns 26 on Jan. 11 and is under club control for the next five years, through the 2020 season. Salazar hasn’t made it to arbitration yet and is not eligible for the first time until the 2017 season.
Salazar was 14-10 in 30 starts last season with a 3.45 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Salazar gave up 79 runs, 71 earned, on 156 hits with 53 walks and 195 strikeouts in 185 innings. Salazar made one appearance for Triple-A Columbus and that six-inning outing ran his season innings total to 191. Salazar finished a combined 170 2/3 innings in 2014 between Cleveland and Columbus.
Acquiring either Carrasco or Salazar would give the Cubs much-needed controllable starting pitching.
The Cubs are not believed to be done this winter. Acquiring a starting pitcher, adding depth to the bullpen and a center fielder are reportedly areas the front office would still like to address.
The Tribune reported, “With a deep reservoir of young players still in the organization, Epstein didn’t rule out another significant move.” Theo Epstein explained, “It does allow us … whether it’s this winter, the trade deadline, or next off-season … to be a threat to make significant trades. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen the next couple of months.”
Update 11:43am CST – Todd Frazier is no longer an option for the Indians. After this report posted, Todd Frazier was traded to the White Sox in a three-team deal with the Dodgers. The White Sox sent 2B Micah Johnson, RHP Frankie Montas and OF Trayce Thompson to the Dodgers and the Reds received INF Brandon Dixon, INF Jose Peraza and OF Scott Schebler from the Dodgers.