It hasn’t been the kindest week of the trading deadline for the Cleveland Indians. They saw their nine game winning streak snapped via a walkoff at the hands of the White Sox (with Bryan Shaw on the mound, who else?). Josh Tomlin left that start early during a no-hitter. They then went into Boston and got two bad starting pitching performances from Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco. Their bullpen got taxed both nights, one in a gut wrenching loss where they scored nine runs.
Then came the rain – literally and figuratively. Before a rainout Wednesday night (which gives the Indians two off days out of the next six then they play 23 straight games) the Indians placed Andrew Miller on the 10-day DL and found out Josh Tomlin could miss up to six weeks with a mild-to-moderate hamstring strain.
It sounds like Miller should be back when the 10 days are up as his knee issue sounds closely related with just needing a rest period overall. The loss of Tomlin ends the six man rotation but maybe leaves the Indians a little thin as Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen have all been worked hard (all three are in the top-100 of qualified relievers for innings pitched this season). Adding Joe Smith was a help but will their injury situation change things?
Trades can still happen in August if players pass through waivers. It happens pretty often and last year the Indians acquired Coco Crisp in August. So could the Indians be active again this August? Here are some names that might fit.
RHP Jim Johnson (Braves)
Atlanta has already placed him on revocable waivers, meaning any team can claim him, offer a trade and if the Braves don’t like the trade, they can pull him back. Johnson is due to make $5 million next year and has a 4.09 ERA but a 2.84 FIP with a career high swinging strike rate and strikeout rate. He also saved over 100 games between 2012-13 as well, so he’s no stranger to pitching in the back end of the bullpen. Johnson is coming off of a good 2016 season as well so it’s not super-fluky. I don’t know if the Indians want to commit to Johnson’s $5 million next year, but Bryan Shaw will likely be gone next year and they could allocate that money for Johnson. The August waiver period has just started and Johnson is already possibly out there and he’s someone the Indians should consider looking at for that reason.
RHP Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)
The Indians felt they didn’t need a starter at the deadline and it was a fair estimation because they couldn’t have predicted Tomlin’s injury. They were already rolling with a six man rotation. Estrada isn’t having a great year and perhaps outperforming his peripherals all these years is finally evening out. He’s still pitching better than his standard numbers indicate (5.19 ERA, 4.38 FIP). He’s allowing less hard contact than last year and an even better swinging strike rate this year as well. If the Indians feel they need someone reliable to give them some innings down the stretch, Estrada is a free agent at the end of the year and has plenty of experience in pennant races as well. Would the Blue Jays make another deal with the Tribe and would he clear waivers?
INF Freddy Galvis (Phillies)
Hat tip to twitter friend Adam Burke for bringing his name as a possible fit for the Indians. They seemed deadset on adding a bench piece to this team and ended up not doing it in the end. Galvis’ name was never connected anywhere but he’s a free agent at the end of the year and if the Phillies can get any lottery ticket player for him in return, wouldn’t they go for it? It’s not like they’re going to offer him a qualifying offer. Galvis is nothing special offensively (85 wRC+) but he does have 11 homers and hit 20 the year before. Galvis can play all over the infield, probably not as well as Erik Gonzalez but enough where he can be serviceable. He also has enough speed to be used as a pinch runner as well, which will be important in September and the postseason. If the Indians don’t feel comfortable rolling with Gonzalez in the postseason on the bench, Galvis is a better option than Asdrubal Cabrera, who could be an option as well, supposedly.
RHP Ervin Santana (Twins)
This one seems highly unlikely but if the Indians get into a situation where they feel they need another starter, it’s possible Santana 2018 $13 million deal could go through waivers this month. The Indians could claim and trade for him and then possibly deal him next year if they don’t want to be on the hook for his salary, but this would be a case where they don’t feel comfortable with their five starter or another gets hurt. Santana has come way back to earth after what always seemed like an unsustainable start but in the face of injury or major ineffectiveness, it’s possible that the Twins and President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey could swing a deal if the need arose.
OF Curtis Granderson (Mets)
I don’t view Jay Bruce as someone the Indians will go after and on the same note it’s hard to see how they’d fit Granderson onto their roster as well. With Lonnie Chisenhall getting healthy, contributions from Austin Jackson and needing Bradley Zimmer to get regular at bats, Granderson’s fit and role would seem hard to imagine. But he’s still producing fairly well (104 wRC+), is playing a solid right field defensively (+3 DRS) and has been long known as one of the best clubhouse presences in baseball.
RHP Juan Nicasio (Pirates)
The Pirates were soft sellers and soft buyers at the trading deadline (baseball purgatory) and Nicasio is a free agent next year. These are the kind of guys who clear waivers and he does have a tidy 2.72 FIP if the Indians look for more relief help from a team that has an Indians front office connection (Neal Huntington). He hasn’t started a game this year but does have some unspectacular experience starting though they’d have to take time to stretch him back out of they wanted to, which they may not have time.
LHP Clayton Richard (Padres)
Not as as a starter, but a reliever. If they get desperate for a left handed option, Richard has had an unspectacular career and year and will be a free agent after the season is over. While very unserviceable as a starter, Richard has a 1.88 FIP against left handers, a 19.5 K-BB% vs them. He’s allowing hard contact 35.8% of the time to right handers but just 23.8% hard contact to left handers. A noisy .419 BABIP has inflated some of his numbers vs. left handers where he has 35 strikeouts and six walks out of 149 left handers faced this year. I doubt the Indians go down this route but Richard clearly is a good left-on-left pitcher for a team that could use one and wouldn’t cost them much but an experiment.