Not many trades happen in September. If a guy is going to be traded midseason, it usually happens in July or August. Otherwise, it’ll hold until winter.
In addition to the diminished supply of players on the trade market, there’s usually a lack of demand; a player acquired after August 31 cannot be added to a team’s 25-man postseason roster, which severely limits a hypothetical trade target’s usefulness to his would-be new employer. He can help out for the last month of the regular season (or, at this point, three weeks), but not in October.
Still, acquiring an end-of-season hired gun isn’t always a waste of time. Even if a player makes only a marginal impact before the end of the season, it doesn’t take much to make the difference in a close playoff race.
With that in mind, now that the Cleveland Indians are effectively out of the pennant race, it’s worth asking: could the Tribe trade Chad Durbin?
There’s nothing more for the Indians to aspire to this season, so there’s no real reason to keep Durbin around. His contract expires at the end of the season, and while there’s a chance he could qualify as a Type B free agent with a strong finish to the season, he’s currently projected to fall short of bringing Cleveland back a compensation pick.
Durbin, 33, would certainly be able to appeal to a contender looking for some last-minute bullpen help. Despite his unsightly 4.90 ERA, he has a 3.73 FIP and a 3.41 SIERA with a 2.6 K/BB ratio in 60.2 innings for the Indians this year. He also brings exceptionally valuable durability to any bullpen—he’s gone more than one inning 17 times this year, including 13 instances when he took the mound for two frames or more.
From the Indians perspective, if they can get even a fringe prospect for Durbin instead of waiting for him to leave via free agency in November, it’s worth doing. Surely they could find some trading partner for a solid veteran reliever who’s cheap, both in terms of salary (he has about $100,00 remaining on his contract) and trading cost (the Indians wouldn’t be in a position to demand much for him) and requires no long-term commitment.
I’d hate to see Durbin go, because it would be a true sign that the Indians know they don’t have a chance this year. But from a pragmatic standpoint, there’s no reason to not at least test the waters.