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Deadline drama: Tribe considers present, future

After making pair of trades, club went down to wire in pursuit of more
August 1, 2019

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ front office can take a deep, cleansing breath, as the phones have gone silent now that the calendar has flipped to August. The club made two trades: one with the Rays on Sunday and a three-team deal with the Reds and Padres that became official on

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ front office can take a deep, cleansing breath, as the phones have gone silent now that the calendar has flipped to August.

The club made two trades: one with the Rays on Sunday and a three-team deal with the Reds and Padres that became official on Wednesday. Let’s review:

Acquired: OF Yasiel Puig (Reds), LHP Scott Moss (Reds), OF Franmil Reyes (Padres), LHP Logan Allen (Padres), INF Victor Nova (Padres), RHP Hunter Wood (Rays), INF Christian Arroyo (Rays)

Traded: RHP Trevor Bauer, Minor League OF Ruben Cardenas

The Indians lost a solid pitcher, but they received an enormous haul for Bauer and added two solid depth pieces in reliever Wood and Arroyo for a 21-year-old prospect who wasn't ranked on the Tribe's Top 30 prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline.

But the Indians were hungry for more. In the final hours leading up to the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline on Wednesday, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff thought they were going to add at least another piece, but their hopeful deals never came to fruition.

“One of the things we’ve learned over the years is there’s no such thing as being close,” Antonetti said. “You have a deal or you don’t. I would say that there were a number of times [Wednesday] where we thought we were either at the finish line or crossed it, and it didn’t happen.”

Will the Indians be fine without that final deal they thought they would make before the buzzer rang? Let’s take a look at how the Tribe's newest pieces will impact its future in 2019 and beyond.

What to take away from Tribe's blockbuster deal

Just a rental

With Puig’s contract expiring at the end of the 2019 season, he realizes that he’ll likely only be in Cleveland for the next two or three months -- but the outfielder said he’s not going to let that put additional pressure on himself to try to play for a potential contract.

“I think with Puig, a lot of people feel like we’re going to get the two best months of his career,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I hope that’s the case. [I’m] genuinely excited about getting to know these guys and turn them loose.”

Lock him in

In addition to Puig’s pop, Reyes’ 27 home runs, 46 RBIs and .849 OPS were quite attractive to the Cleveland front office. However, the fact that the 24-year-old is under team control until after the 2024 season was an enormous draw.

“It was a really important part,” Antonetti said. “I think one of the things that we were seeking to do with this is get guys that, again, could help us this year, but also help as we plan building our team beyond this year.”

With Bauer having just one year left before becoming a free agent – a year in which he’s projected to make upwards of $20 million --- swapping the hurler’s contract for a bat that can be controlled for five years to come could be a big victory for the club.

Will the rotation falter?

The Indians were clear that they realized the talent they were shipping away, but the young arms they have seen all year gave them confidence to make a deal to bolster the offense. The Tribe will test Danny Salazar in the rotation and has plenty of confidence in 24-year-old Zach Plesac. But the biggest factor is that Corey Kluber could be nearing his return to the big league team.

“Yeah, I think we had to look at the complete picture, not just what was in front of us in the moment, but what we expected to happen over the course of the next couple of months," Antonetti said. "And one of those things is the return of Corey Kluber at some point in the next month.”

Within the next 30 days, the Indians’ rotation could be: Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Plesac and Salazar/Adam Plutko.

“The goal isn't to have the best pitching staff,” Antonetti said. “The goal for us is to build the best team that's capable of winning the World Series. And to do that, we knew we may have to trade from some areas of depth to address other needs.”

Bullpen depth

Wood was sent to Triple-A Columbus, but the right-hander, who pitched to a 2.48 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 29 innings for Tampa Bay this season, provides some much-needed depth for the Indians’ relief corps.

“Hard, big arm,” Francona said. “This gives us a chance to have a pitcher that’s optionable, already in our system, because if something happens, you could get pretty thin quick.”

Look into the future

With continued development, the Indians expect Allen (in Triple-A) to be a middle-of-the-rotation type of starter. Further down the road, Chernoff said they could envision the other lefty, Moss (in Double-A), to be another starting option. At the end of the year or at the start of next year, after Arroyo rehabs his right forearm tendinitis, the Indians believe he’ll be able to make a positive impact on the big league club.

The Indians fell into strange territory, trading an ace-like pitcher to somehow improve their roster. Not only did they benefit the current team, but they helped pick up pieces who could strengthen the club in the years to come.

“They might be the only two that could do it, I really believe that,” Francona said of Antonetti and Chernoff. “I think they’re trying to thread a needle a little bit with where we are. And I thought they did a hell of a job.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.