The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Cleveland Indians have extensively scouted the San Francisco Giants’ farm system. This heightens speculation that the Giants and Indians could be talking about a deal.
The Chronicle reminded that catcher-first baseman Victor Martinez and first baseman Ryan Garko of Cleveland might be targeted by the Giants.
Martinez’s $5.7 million salary rises to $6.2 million if he’s traded, and his club option of $7 million for 2010 would increase to $7.5 million. Regardless, he’s extremely affordable, and he’d give the Giants a presence behind the plate — assuming they don’t re-sign Bengie Molina — until Buster Posey’s ready. And if Posey proves he’s ready during the 2010 season, Martinez can play first base.
The Indians, staying true to company form, are mum on whether or not Cliff Lee is on the block. But if what Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said today is true, and Roy Halladay is, indeed, “unlikely” to be traded, that would only serve to make Lee all the more valuable to contending clubs.
Several of those clubs, including the Phillies and Dodgers, had scouts at tonight’s game at the Rogers Centre to watch Lee, and they saw the reigning AL Cy Young winner turn in a complete-game gem against Halladay’s Jays. Lee improved to 6-9 with a 3.17 ERA in a season in which his record is no indication of how well he’s pitched.
The contenders know this, and the Indians have to know their odds of keeping Lee beyond his 2010 option year, in which he’d make $9 million, are slim to none. Of course, trading Lee in advance of that option year, with no top-of-the-rotation starters in the system or on the horizon, would surely be a major blow to any hopes of the Tribe contending next season. But trading Lee with a little less than a year and a half left on his contract would allow the Indians to pull in maximum value for the left-hander.
Teams get desperate for starting help this time of year, and it’s not every day that a club can land a bona fide No. 1 of Lee’s ilk. If Halladay is pulled from the block, as Ricciardi hints, then the desperation to land Lee only rises — and with it rises the temptation for the Tribe to pull the trigger on a trade.
— Anthony Castrovince
His team is the subject of much trade talk in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said he has “zero sense” as to whether or not the Indians will get a deal done.
“We’re extremely busy and active right now,” Shapiro said.
The two names on the lips of fans and writers alike are Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez. The Indians hold affordable options on both cornerstone players for 2010, and trading either or both of them before the ’10 season would be a tough sell to the fan base. But the Indians have to be open-minded about all serious offers for the Cy Young winner and the switch-hitting catcher because of the potential returns they could bring in.
That being said, if the Indians are active in the trade department this summer, it appears more likely that guys like Carl Pavano or Jamey Carroll — both of whom are eligible for free agency at season’s end — would be shopped. Reliever Rafael Betancourt can also be had, as the Indians aren’t likely to exercise his $5.4 million option for next season. The Tribe would listen to offers for closer Kerry Wood, but the $10.5 million he’s owed next year makes it doubtful that such offers exist.
Third baseman Jhonny Peralta and first baseman Ryan Garko could be deemed expendable by the Tribe, but those names, as well as those of Lee and Martinez, might be names to watch moreso in the offseason than at the deadline.
As far as how the deadline will shake out, Shapiro said the non-waiver component is perhaps less meaningful this year than in years past. Given the financial constraints holding back many teams right now, he expects the trades of very few players being blocked by the waiver system.
“This year, the [non-waiver] deadline is going to be far less relevant,” Shapiro said. “[The market] will probably be active all the way through August.”
What are the Indians searching for in the trade market? That’s easy. It’s pitching, pitching and more pitching.
— Anthony Castrovince