The Cleveland Indians are just 3.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central and sit three games over .500 and could be looking to add a starting pitcher before the non-waiver trade deadline. GM Chris Antonetti would like to add another arm to pair with Justin Masterson at the top of the rotation.
Starting pitching has been the major weakness for the Indians so far this season. Only Zach McAllister and Masterson have sub-4.00 ERAs and McAllister is currently on the 15-day DL. The Indians do have some youth and depth in their rotation but if they want to compete they might need an upgrade in the rotation.
Right now, the starting pitching market is undefined. Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza are arguably the two best starters on the market. Ricky Nolasco could have been a nice fit but he was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week. The Indians are on Gallardo’s no-trade list so that could prove to be a major hurdle if Antonetti wishes to add Gallardo. Another hurdle would be the asking price for the Milwaukee Brewers ace. Brewers GM Doug Melvin has already gone on record as saying he would have to be blown away to agree to trade his ace, especially since Gallardo is not going to be a free agent like Garza or Nolasco.
Chicago Cubs ace Matt Garza would be a very nice addition for the Indians. However, depending on who you listen to the Cubs are in the process of trying to sign Garza to an extension. Even if they are trying to work out an extension it could be just an insurance policy and should preclude Cubs GM Jed Hoyer from listening to offers. The Indians do have some young arms that could entice Hoyer such as Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mitch Brown, Dillon Howard and Danny Salazar. The question is, would Antonetti sacrifice a young arm or two for what could turn out to be a two-month rental?
The Indians splurged this past off-season, signing Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds. They also traded Shin-Soo Choo and brought in Trevor Bauer to potentially front their rotation for years so Antonetti is planning for the future while trying to make the Indians competitive as soon as possible.
If Garza can be had for a reasonable price he might make sense for the Indians but it will be imperative for the Indians not to give up too much for a starter who will be a free agent at the end of the year and might be best suited for the National League.