And yes, that includes Shane Bieber.
Bieber has two years of controllability left and recent efforts at a contract extension proved unfruitful.
Even though Bieber is just 4-6 this season with a 3.55 ERA, his name carries significant weight.
Because he won the Cy Young after a lights-out season back in 2020.
Here’s what Passan had to say about Cleveland’s stance at the deadline:
“Cleveland, as it has done every year for seemingly a decade now, is willing to trade its controllable starting pitching — namely right-handers Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. Even Shane Bieber could be had, but that’s more about Cleveland’s long-standing willingness to talk about anyone — for the right price. For Bieber, that price is exorbitant.”
Passan hits on two crucial pieces here related to Bieber.
First, it’s the continuation of a strategy Cleveland has maintained for some time.
Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber are just a few of the arms Cleveland has shipped off in recent memory.
Second, the Guardians aren’t going to let Bieber go for cheap.
Despite a down year statistically a velocity drop in his fastball, Bieber is a recent Cy Young Award winner.
He might not be the leading arm on a team with deep playoff aspirations, but could he slot in at No. 2 this season?
And could he just as quickly regain his stellar form next season, while still under team control?
So which teams might be interested in Bieber?
The following teams have been rumored to have interest in a pitcher ahead of the trade deadline: NY Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, and NY Yankees.
Of those, the Guardians likely wouldn’t send Bieber to the Twins, considering they are a division rival and the Guardians are still in the playoff race.
The Yankees and Jays are also rumored to be in on Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo.
Double-digit strikeout games, past three seasons:
19 Corbin Burnes (incl. today)
18 Gerrit Cole
16 Shane Bieber
15 Robbie Ray
15 Max Scherzer
13 Aaron Nola
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 27, 2022
Let’s add another caveat: the Guardians will likely be looking for a mix of young talent that is also MLB-ready (or near so, at least).
Passan noted that the price for Bieber would be “exorbitant.”
That doesn’t mean Juan-Soto-Levels pricy.
But one Castillo trade saw three Yankees top-22 prospects head to Cincinnati for the starter.
Likely then, the Guardians wouldn’t take anything less than that, especially considering Bieber is controllable for two more seasons.
That leaves us with three top-25 or so players in a team’s system; higher so, if the team has a less-than-stellar farm system.
Could a team that misses out on the Castillo and Frankie Montas sweepstakes get desperate and send an above-average offer to the Guardians?
At this point, that might be the best-case scenario.
Perhaps the Guardians catch wind of a failed Yankees or Jays offer for Castillo.
Cleveland could then dangle Bieber out there for the same offer, plus maybe another lower-tier prospect.
Shane Bieber's final 3 outs in his complete game. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ltf5ImxXU2
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2022
Maybe the Cardinals depart with pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore (No. 44 overall), the Dodgers agree to send off catcher Diego Cartaya (No. 12 overall), or the Yankees decide outfielder Jasson Dominguez (No. 38 overall) is worth a Bieber trade.
A return headlined by a player in the 15-35 range would be a win for the Guardians.
The Guardians can worry about an overcrowded outfield or which catcher to move forward with later.
At this point, it’s just about stacking the deck with talent.