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Looking Back at Recent Guardians Trades Ahead of Trade Deadline

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

The MLB Trade Deadline is set for August 2nd. With rumors and rumblings of the Cleveland Guardians potentially looking to make moves, it’s time to take a look back at some recent trades by the front office that have netted the team instant value, both for the now and the future.

Photo: Denny Medley/USA Today

Trevor Bauer Trade

The first trade that comes to mind is the Trevor Bauer trade. After throwing the ball over the wall in his final start as a member of the then-Indians, the man who cut his hand playing with a drone right before Game 3 of the ALCS in 2016 was shipped off to Cincinnati in a three-way deal, also involving the Padres. Cleveland took back outfielder Yasiel Puig and lefty Scott Moss from Cincinnati, along with outfielder Franmill Reyes, infielder Victor Nova and lefty Logan Allen from San Diego. Cincinnati sent outfielder Taylor Trammell to San Diego.

For the Guardians, Reyes became the centerpiece in the deal. Since coming to Cleveland, “La Mole” has hit .246. Last season, he hit .254, while mashing 30 homers and platting 85 RBI’s in 115 games. When healthy, he’s been a decent power bat in the middle of the lineup, and even if he’s a candidate to be shipped off at the deadline this season, he provided a couple of years of stability at DH for the Guards.

Puig last played in MLB in 2019 when he finished the campaign for the Guardians. In 49 games, he hit .297 with two homers and 15 doubles. His emotional attitude sometimes got him into trouble, but for a rental, he did contribute for the ballclub.

As for the rest of the package, Moss is currently a Phillie after pitching for a few seasons for the Guardians in the minors. Nova is currently playing in the Dominican Republic after spending some time in the farm system. Allen is currently in Baltimore after splitting time between the majors and minors over the last few seasons.

Overall, the Guardians received a power bat with inconsistency in Reyes, and squeezed the last of the juice out of Puig. While Moss, Nova or Allen didn’t pan out, Bauer didn’t necessarily pan out for Cincinnati. For the remainder of 2019, he went 2-5 in 10 starts with a 6.39 Earned Run Average for the Reds. In 2020, he bounced back, scoring a 1.73 ERA, good enough to win the Cy Young Award for the National League. However, he only made 11 starts the whole season due to the COVID-19 pandemic shortened season. Once the offseason hit, Bauer bolted to Los Angeles for the Dodgers, where he made 17 starts and had a 2.59 ERA before being put on administrative leave following allegations of sexual assault.

Photo: LM Otero/AP

Mike Clevinger Trade

In 2020, with the shortened season in full swing, the Guardians decided to make a move that would become the cornerstone move for the team to continue to compete while retooling. In a masterpiece of negotiation by President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti and General Manager Mike Chernoff, the team sent pitcher Mike Clevinger, who rubbed some in the organization the wrong way after not apologizing for breaking COVID protocols, to San Diego for building block pieces, both for the now and the future. These are the players Cleveland received back for Clevinger and backup outfielder Greg Allen:

  • Josh Naylor

  • Cal Quantrill

  • Austin Hedges

  • Owen Miller

  • Gabriel Arias

  • Joey Cantillo

Even after his gruesome leg injury last May has pretty much ended Naylor’s chances of being an outfielder going forward, his value to the Cleveland baseball franchise cannot be overstated. He is THE energy in the clubhouse. He’s come up time and time again this season clutch when the team needed him most.

Quantrill was seen as a reliever when the deal was first made, but he was also seen as somebody who could transition into a full-time starter, and that’s exactly what he’s done. Last season, he appeared in 40 games (22 starts) and pitched well, generating a 2.89 ERA. This year, in his first season as a full-time starter, he’s 7-5 in 19 starts, with an ERA of 3.97 that’s respectable in the tougher American League. Sometimes, his control can be an issue, and he can’t finish starts the way he comes out guns blazing, but the talent is there. Some innings he pitches he can be pure dominant.

Hedges is a tremendous defensive catcher who has inserted himself into the starting lineup for most games this season after the departure of Roberto Perez to Pittsburgh. His lack of offense (.175 average) is more than likely the reason why he won’t be the starting catcher at some point in 2023 with the impending callup of Josh Naylor’s brother Bo, but his ability to catch a game and block pitchers in the dirt provide value as a backup catcher.

Miller and Arias were seen as two utility infielders who could be excellent pieces for the future. In 2022, Miller has improved offensively, raising his average from .204 in 2021 to .246 so far this season. In 60 games in 2021, he had 18 RBI’s. In 87 games so far in 2022, he has 39. With so many infielders on the team, the Guards have tried sticking Miller at first, and it hasn’t produced good results, but Miller’s bat and versatility is what makes him a good player. Arias meanwhile had a cup of coffee at the major league level, making 20 plate appearances before suffering a hand injury. He is the current No. 4 prospect in the farm system and seen internally as a guy who will make a big splash when he’s ready, potentially as early as next season.

Cantillo, a left-handed starter, is currently 4-3 with just over a 2.00 ERA at AA Akron.

As for Clevinger, he made four starts for San Diego before suffering a shoulder injury, similar to the many injuries he suffered in Cleveland. “Sunshine” went under the knife for Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2021 campaign. He’s done a decent job since returning this season, posting a 3.38 ERA in 10 starts. So far, San Diego has received 15 games from Clevinger since the trade (14 starts), Greg Allen made four plate appearances in his Padres career, and the Guardians received key fundamental pieces to build around for a (hopefully) soon-to-be contending team. This is the definition of “winning” a trade in sports.

Photo: Tony Dejak/AP

Francisco Lindor Trade

The No. 8 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft was beloved by Cleveland fans from the minute he put on a Cleveland uniform. Since making his debut in the summer of 2015, “Mr. Smiles” has been seen as one of, if not the best shortstop in the game. Ever since Lindor turned down a seven year, $100 million extension from the front office in 2017, everybody knew the inevitable was coming: As soon as Frankie hits free agency, he’s bolting Cleveland. Owner Paul Dolan even went as far as telling fans to, “Enjoy him” back in 2019.

After a pandemic shortened 2020 season in which Lindor hit .258, with eight homers and 27 RBI’s, the four-time All-Star was shipped to the Mets alongside fan favorite Carlos Carrasco in exchange for infielders Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez, and two prospects in outfielder Isaiah Greene and pitcher Josh Wolfe. Ever since coming to the 216, Rosario has been a consistent hitter in the lineup, hitting a combined .286 over his first season and a half with the Guardians. With Rosario manning down the shortstop position, Gimenez has shifted to second base this season and has flourished, earning a bid to the All-Star Game and making a tremendous defensive play. This season, the 23-year-old is hitting .296 with 11 dingers and 45 RBI’s. As for the prospects, both are at A at Lynchburg. Greene is currently ranked No. 25 in the farm system.

For Lindor, he may have received a massive extension with the Mets, but things have not been all smiles for him. Since heading to the Big Apple, he’s hit .239. This season, he’s hit .251 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI’s in 67 games. Carrasco meanwhile has made 31 starts in his Mets career, equaling a 4.74 ERA. This season, he’s 10-4, but he has a 4.04 ERA.

The Guardians may have given up a great talent, but what they got back between Rosario and Gimenez alone in my estimation is fair value. Lindor is a special player, but at the price point he demanded, it just wasn’t going to happen, and Rosario and Gimenez have arguably succeeded his production at a much lower cost that allowed the organization to keep Jose Ramirez long term, and Carrasco was not going to carve out a spot in the Guardians evolving young rotation. If Greene and/or Wolfe work out at the major league level, the trade will look even better.

On July 28 against the RedSox, the Guardians lineup was as follows:

  1. Steven Kwan (LF)

  2. Amed Rosario (SS)

  3. Jose Ramirez (3B)

  4. Josh Naylor (1B)

  5. Andres Gimenez (2B)

  6. Franmill Reyes (DH)

  7. Nolan Jones (RF)

  8. Luke Maile (C)

  9. Myles Straw (CF)

Out of those nine, four players were a part of the trades listed above. If Owen Miller and Austin Hedges were in the lineup, that would equate to six out of the nine batters in the lineup for the Guardians that were a part of one of those three trades. Adding in the trade for Myles Straw at last year’s deadline, and the deal for Emmanuel Clase for Corey Kluber at the end of the 2019 season, and it’s clear the Guardians front office knows how to make a deal.

Antonetti and Chernoff are not afraid to strike. The Andrew Miller deal in 2016 proved that and so has the multitude of trades the Guardians have made since the Terry Francona era.

It’s likely the Guardians are going to make a deal at the 2022 trade deadline that will involve some kind of balance between “buying” and “selling”. It’s just what they do, and if history has taught us anything, it’s do not judge a trade immediately because down the line, they always seem to work out in the end.

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