What should the Guardians do leading up to the trade deadline?

A trade could be on the horizon to fix some of Cleveland’s on-field issues. But, it likely won’t be for a superstar.
trade deadline guardians
CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 22: A member of the Cleveland Strikers runs the Guardians banner across the outfield wall as fans celebrate following the Major League Baseball Interleague game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Guardians on July 22, 2023, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With less than ten days to go until the annual MLB trade deadline, the Cleveland Guardians are in a bind. Cleveland is only a few games behind the Minnesota Twins for first place in the AL Central. The Guardians are also struggling to find power hitting and, with injuries muddying the return of Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie, rely on rookie pitching to carry them.

While Tanner Bibee, Logan Allen, and Gavin Williams have been more than admirable, banking on three players without experience before this season is risky. It’s working in the interim, but it could also blow up in their face spectacularly if Cleveland leans on it for too long.

President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti recently said his club is looking to add are looking to add both a starting pitcher and a complementary bat before the August 1 deadline. Those comments indicate that Cleveland is again committed to contending for the division title. If the Guardians make the right moves, they could lock up a lackluster AL Central sooner rather than later.

The problem is Cleveland might not have the ammunition to make a splashy move this deadline. With Bieber’s nagging injury on top of his existing on-field issues, the Guardians likely won’t find a way to move one of their more intriguing trade chips. Granted, moving on from Bieber could gain momentum for Cleveland during annual meetings this winter. But fans shouldn’t be getting their hopes up for Shohei Otani or a superstar-level talent, it just doesn’t feel like it’s in the cards.

Instead, the Guardians should look to keep it simple leading up to this deadline. With McKenzie and Bieber out, a trade to acquire the back-end of the rotation starter should be one of Cleveland’s primary focuses. Perhaps a reunion with Carlos Carrasco could be on the table if the ongoing season from hell continues in Queens for the New York Mets. If not Cookie, maybe the Guardians could try to facilitate a trade to acquire Zack Greinke from the bottom-feeding Kansas City Royals. Cleveland could also keep things within the division and try to acquire Michael Lorenzen from the Detroit Tigers.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 30: Carlos Carrasco #59 of the New York Mets throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on June 30, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

There are options, even if they aren’t the sexist pitching options. If the Guardians can add any of the aforementioned players to support their rookie platoon, all while waiting for McKenzie and Bieber to get healthy, they should be able to lean on their core identity: strong pitching. Unfortunately, adding pitching isn’t going to fix everything and Cleveland needs power-hitting, especially with the Mike Zunino signing blowing up in their face.

Granted, with Josh Bell starting to pop lately, it helps ease the need for a second-tier bat. Hopefully, Bell keeps it going, but Bell alone isn’t changing the fact that the Guardians are dead last in home runs and only twenty-sixth in slugging percentage. Cleveland could make an internal move and trade Amed Rosario to open up space at shortstop for Tyler Freeman, Gabriel Arias or Brayan Rocchio. But, like their current pitching gamble, that move alone might not be sustainable for the Guardians long-term. So that’s where another trade comes into focus for Cleveland.

A player that makes a lot of sense on paper is Chicago Cubs slugger Cody Bellinger. But Bellinger’s cost could be too steep considering his ability to play first base, right field and center field at an above-average level combined with his bounce-back year (so far) escalates his value. Instead, perhaps Cleveland takes a long look at Teoscar Hernández, Lane Thomas or even Brent Rooker. These names certainly have more curb appeal compared to the aforementioned pitching. But, it is reassuring that there could be options for the Guardians with the trade deadline looming.

There are a lot of routes that Cleveland could take to inject life into their lineup and rotations. But, no matter what, the Guardians must find a way to bring Carlos Santana home before the deadline. This sentiment is purely based on vibes alone and, win or lose, having Santana back in Cleveland would make the season more enjoyable.

Evan Dammarell is an award-winning sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at evan@downeuclid.com. He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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