The Cleveland Indians are looking to trade one of Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer this offseason. Kluber is the better pitcher, and should the Milwaukee Brewers be interested, what could he cost in a trade?
After winning two Cy Young awards, and posting a sub-3.00 ERA each of the past two seasons, Corey Kluber is going to be a highly sought-after trade target. The Milwaukee Brewers would have to part with a lot of talent if they were to acquire him.
If David Stearns is looking to add an ace to his rotation, there has been no one better over the past five seasons.
What Do The Indians Want?
According to Jon Morosi, Indians want a young outfielder, which is something the Brewers have plenty extra of.
If #Indians trade Corey Kluber, they would like to receive a young outfielder in the deal. So it is not a surprise that the #Dodgers (Alex Verdugo), #Yankees (Estevan Florial) and #Brewers (Corey Ray) all are potential landing spots for Kluber. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 10, 2018
This is where David Stearns’ plan to get an overabundance of outfielders turns out in his favor.
But to acquire Kluber, it’s going to take a lot more than just top outfield prospect Corey Ray to headline a trade package. Especially since Ray is a year away from the big leagues, they’re going to need something else to entice them to make a deal.
Kluber, 32, is under control for three more seasons, for salaries of $17MM, $17.5MM, and $18MM, which are very team friendly considering the production he’s put up.
What Could A Kluber Trade Package Look Like?
Here is my estimation of what it would take for the Milwaukee Brewers to acquire Corey Kluber.
Morosi’s report says they would want Corey Ray. But Ray doesn’t have nearly as high of a prospect status as Alex Verdugo and Estevan Florial have. It’s going to take a team’s top prospect to acquire a pitcher the level of Kluber for three seasons.
Keston Hiura needs to be involved in any successful package for Kluber. He’s a top-30 prospect in all of baseball, and he’s on the fast track to the big leagues. While it would hurt to part with him, it would be necessary in order to complete the trade.
Corey Ray helps fill the long-term positional hole the Indians have in the outfield. After coming off a breakout season in Double-A, Ray’s stock is trending up, and the Brewers should sell high.
Brandon Woodruff has the lowest ceiling of the three Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospects. Between Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta, the most likely to get traded is Woodruff. Since the Brewers are including their top two prospects in Hiura and Ray in this proposed package, Burnes and Peralta should be off-limits.
Domingo Santana will get thrown in as well in this package because the Indians need MLB-ready outfielders now. They are still going to contend and make the playoffs next season, and they have a desperate need for outfielders. Ray won’t be ready in time to help them in 2019, but Santana will, and he should be on the trade block this winter. With an opportunity to get regular at-bats, Santana should bounce back nicely in 2019.
Whether or not it’s a smart move to part with this much talent for a soon-to-be 33 year old pitcher is another debate entirely. But to acquire the two-time Cy Young winner in Kluber for the next three seasons at a very team-friendly salary, it’s going to cost a lot in terms of prospect talent.
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The only way around giving up Keston Hiura is to include Corbin Burnes in this trade. At this point, it’s more likely the Milwaukee Brewers would rather hold onto Burnes than they are to Hiura.