Will the Guardians be buyers or sellers?
It’s a major question facing Cleveland ahead of a trade deadline exactly one week away.
So far, it’s been quiet on the trade front, with smaller deals getting done here and there.
And what role will the Guardians play at the deadline?
Six weeks ago, they would have been clear buyers as they rode a wave of strong play to the top of the AL Central.
Now, as they sit just a half-game ahead of the Chicago White Sox for second in the division, the situation is a bit murkier.
The club entered the season with no expectations; everything they’ve accomplished so far has been icing on the cake.
And in the infield, Andrés Giménez looks the part of a future star after earning his first All-Star nod this season.
But one position that the Guardians need to address is catcher.
While current first option Austin Hedges is a defensive ace, he’s left a lot to be asked for as a batter.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) July 25, 2022
He’s batting .172 with a minus-.2 WAR.
A reminder, he’s the starting catcher, so a negative WAR means he’s playing worse than his actual backups this season.
Because of that, the Guardians could be in the market to find help at catcher.
According to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, one name to keep an eye out for is Cubs’ backstop Wilson Contreras.
“The Astros, Mets, Giants, Padres or Guardians are the most likely to acquire Contreras. I think Contreras will be traded and there’s a 50-50 chance Happ gets moved, too. Contreras is a rental, but the Cubs should be able to get a top-five and a top-15 prospect from an organization in return.”
Cost of Business
As Bowden noted, the asking price for Contreras is steep: likely two prospects, one a top-five and another top-15.
Espino and Williams are likely off the table.
Both should be saved for either the Guardians or a generational-type player in return.
Valera is the club’s No. 2 prospect, per MLB.com, so he’s also likely out of any trades.
That leaves infielders Arias and Rocchio.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) July 26, 2022
Also throw in Amed Rosario, who currently plays short but could very well be on the move, too.
Both Arias and Rocchio are capable of playing second, third, and short.
But with third occupied by Ramirez and second by Giménez, that leaves one position for three players, including Rosario.
Of the two prospects, Arias is likely the option.
He’s had a taste of the pros, while Rocchio is still developing in Double-A.
That leaves the Guardians some flexibility to decide on Rosario for another season before thinking about replacing him with Rocchio or another farm option.
Maybe catcher Bryan Lavistada is also included as the “top-15” prospect, considering Contreras can cover for now and the club will still have Bo Naylor for the future.