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After a long stretch on the road where they went 6-5, the Cleveland Guardians won the first game in a three-game home stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 in extra innings. After losing to Arizona, Cleveland is now 53-49 on the season, just treading water above .500. Thankfully, the Guardians are still in the thick of things in the AL Central and are within spitting distance of the Minnesota Twins for first place in the division.
The Guardians have had a fairly promising season after many thought they'd pack it in and let the youth movement take control. Instead, it seems the kids are alright and Cleveland has a legitimate chance to make a postseason run this fall. But, with today being the last official day the Guardians can make a transaction to bolster the squad, their work will be cut out for them. A lot can happen between now and 6 p.m. ET. But, this morning, here are three players worth considering if you're Cleveland heading into the final hours of transactions.
Willson Contreras – Catcher, Chicago Cubs
Of all of Cleveland's needs, catcher might be their biggest one, with the club's four main backstops combining for a fairly mediocre batting average of .143 this season. Seemingly anything would be an upgrade for the Guardians, with Cleveland even inquiring about Oakland Athletics catcher Sean Murphy, according to The Athletic's Zack Meisel. But, Meisel also said that Oakland has claimed the team is in no rush to move Murphy because of his years of remaining team control. It's to be seen if their stance softens any as the deadline draws closer by the end of the day. But, for now, the Guardians may want to look elsewhere.
Thankfully, there could be a more easily obtainable option in the Windy City in Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. Since his rookie year in 2016 (when he helped Chicago to a World Series victory over Cleveland, the club's first in 107 years), Contreras has become one of the National League's more consistent offensive catchers, making three All-Star appearances and hitting 14 home runs this season with an on-plate percentage of .818.
Contreras will be a free agent after the season, and the Cubs are in the midst of an all-out fire sale. While the 30-year-old doesn't come with the long-term control of a guy like Murphy, that also means the asking price to get him would likely be much smaller, and he would certainly fill a demand in Cleveland's starting nine. ESPN's Jesse Rogers listed the Guardians as a possible suitor for Contreras on Monday and is definitely worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline enters the final hours today.
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Pittsburgh relief man David Bednar could give Cleveland's bullpen a serious shot in the arm. But, the price could be steep. Photo credit: Eric Espada/Getty Images.
David Bednar – Relief Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates
Other than catcher, the other spot where Cleveland could use help the most is in the bullpen. The most attractive option is Pittsburgh Pirates relief man David Bednar, who has the ability to go multiple innings, possesses a high strikeout rate (12.0 per nine innings) and always carries an Earned Run Average and a Fielding Independent Pitching average both under 3.00 (2.70 and 2.50, respectively). The 27-year-old All-Star is also under team control through 2026, which provides long-term stability. But, like Murphy in Oakland, it could also drive Bednar's asking price from Pittsburgh through the roof.
If the Pirates end up asking for too much, then there are other options Kansas City's Scott Barlow that better serves as a veteran rental option. But, the asking price from Pittsburgh also shouldn't deter Cleveland either. Bednar fits in nicely in the hypothetical timeline the Guardians are trying to establish. As their young players become more ready for the Majors, Bednar will be a strong arm in an overwhelming bullpen. Trying to acquire him almost makes too much sense for Cleveland.
Historically speaking, Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff have had success acquiring relievers during deadlines past, whether it be multi-year pieces like Andrew Miller and Brad Hand or rentals like Joe Smith. So, it's hard to see them not striking again this time around and taking a long look at Bednar may be worth their while.
Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell could give the Guardians a much-needed offensive spark in their rotation. Photo credit: Greg Fiume/Getty Images.
Josh Bell – First Base, Washington Nationals
While Juan Soto will be the player everyone is waiting for the Washington Nationals to trade, it would be remiss of the Guardians to not call about first baseman Josh Bell. The 29-year-old is having a career year, hitting .302 at the plate along with 14 home runs, 22 doubles and 57 RBIs as well as 49 walks to just 60 strikeouts, prior to Monday's loss to the New York Mets. Bell's plate discipline would fit right into Cleveland’s lineup and the Guardians would certainly welcome the power coming to the lineup, too.
Last offseason, Bell signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Nationals and given the fact that Washington is having a fire… sale, he could be easily had via trade. The right-handed hitter would be a perfect complement to Josh Naylor at first base and would allow the Guardians to no longer have to play Owen Miller, who has been struggling both offensively and defensively, at first this season as well. Cleveland could also make Bell their designated hitter at times too, giving them more flexibility in terms of what to ultimately do with Franmil Reyes, who has been on a roller coaster of sorts while at the plate.
There are plenty of teams interested in Bell, with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Houston Astros and the New York Mets all being reportedly interested in acquiring him as well. But, Cleveland has plenty of prospects that would allow them to get a deal done and could possibly outbid any of the other teams vying for Bell's services. If the Guardians could feature Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor, Bell and Andres Gimenez in the middle of their lineup, they'd be loaded offensively. That could be the key difference maker when it comes to a serious playoff run as well as the AL Central crown.
Featured image credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Did you enjoy this edition of Right Down Euclid? You can get it in your inbox two to three times a week by subscribing here. All it takes is either your Facebook account or email address!
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