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An Unlikely But Plausible Scenario:
IF the Guardians go on a great run in June and find themselves leading the division in July, then I think you could see them look to add a big bat, a relief arm or a starting pitcher to help with the 2022 run. Some bats only under contract through 2022 or 2023: Josh Bell, 1B, Washington, Andrew Benintendi, LF, Kansas City, Trey Mancini, 1B, Baltimore, Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Philadelphia, Wilson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs, Ian Happ, LF, Chicago Cubs, Brandon Drury, IF/OF, Cincinnati, or Frankie Montas, RHP, Oakland. In general, I have focused on players who would be under control until at least 2024 as Antonetti indicated those were the players the team would focus on in potential trades this offseason. But, if the team really outperforms expectations over the two weeks following the upcoming Colorado series, I’d fully support pursuing a short-term acquisition or two, because Cleveland should be maximizing their chances to compete in prime years of Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber being on the team whenever the opportunity arises.

Three Trade Predictions for the Cleveland Guardians by the August 2nd Deadline:
With the caveat that it is impossible for me to know which players the Guardians like (even down to the level of whether they have intangible issues about which we know nothing), which teams they match-up well with, and which Guardians prospects/players those teams like, I’m going to give three potential deals I think the Guardians could legitimately make that would improve their team and benefit their trade partner. If I had to guess, I think the Guardians will move Amed Rosario at the August trade deadline and wait to make further moves until the season ends. But, we shall see!

Prediction 1: Guardians trade Amed Rosario, SS and Tim Herrin, LHP, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Luke Murphy, RHP and Werner Blakely, IF.
Analysis: The Angels have one of the most lackluster middle-infields in baseball so Amed could really help them both this year and next. Additionally, Herrin adds a lefty reliever who seems to have a good shot at helping a major league team soon to the Angels’ oft beleaguered pen. Meanwhile, the Guardians get a relief prospect who doesn’t need Rule-5 protection until 2024 and has 11.9/3.6 K/BB/9 and a 3.45 FIP in Double-A, as well as a projectable infielder who takes walks that they can work with to maximize his power potential. Blakely also isn’t Rule-5 eligible until 2024. It wouldn’t be a Guardians’ trade season if they didn’t inexplicably acquire a player who can play shortstop (to clarify – Blakely projects best as a third-baseman).

Prediction 2: Guardians trade Gabriel Arias, SS, and Nick Mikolajchak, RHP to the St. Louis Cardinals for Alec Burleson, OF, Leonardo Bernal, C, and Tink Hence, RHP.
Analysis: In this case, the Guardians would be getting a corner-outfield prospect with power from the right-side who won’t need Rule-5 protection until 2023, a 19.10 year old starting pitching prosect who has very Guardians’ like numbers in Low-A (14/4 K/BB/9 and a 2.29 xFIP) and a switch-hitting teenage catching prospect with some upside. Meanwhile, the Cardinals get a very good prospect with very real starting ML shortstop potential and a reliever with decent major league potential. With all of these trades, I’m trying to identify something that feels like it hurts both teams, and I believe that’s the case here.

A note: I know many folks are convinced Arias is the Guardians shortstop of the future, and I acknowledge that he may be. Personally, I remain a bit lower on his bat than some are (I believe he has a grooved swing) and, as wiser folks than myself have noted, the team may be pushing him as their shortstop of the future to media folks to drive up his trade market. So, that’s why you find him included in a trade in my projections.

Prediction 3: Guardians trade Tobias Myers, RHP and Jose Fermin, 2B/3B, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Donny Sands, C.
Analysis: This is may be an overpay for Sands, because of the scarcity of catchers who have some hitting upside. But, I’d pay the over-value to add a little catching depth for the coming season. Honestly, if they could pull this move off, I’d release Maile and get Sands up to get some regular at-bats with Hedges in hopes that he could take over a starting role in 2023 while Bo Naylor continues to develop. Myers has turned things around recently and the Phillies will be happy to add some backend of the rotation potential looking at their system, and Fermin seems like the kind of guy who could actually get regular AB’s for them down the stretch.

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