The Cleveland Indians have picked up their $10.25 million 2020 club option on Carlos Carrasco and signed him to a three year extension that runs through 2023. The deal reportedly pays Carrasco $12 million in 2021 and 2022 respectively, and comes with a $14 million club option for 2023 with a $3 million buyout. It’s a very team friendly deal for the Indians, but it still raises some questions of what’s to come next.
Back in July, Cleveland made an obvious win-now move by dealing their #1 prospect, Francisco Mejia, to the San Diego Padres for an immediate need, bullpen arms Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. It was clear that they were gearing up for an October run, which they confirmed again with their September acquisition of Josh Donaldson. Following a disappointing ALDS exit against the Astros, Cleveland still looked like a perennial contender. Coming off of their third straight AL Central division title, the core of the team is still young and they still have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. However, their more recent behavior is making fans scratch their heads, and its possible even the organization itself doesn’t know what they’re trying to do.
Carrasco’s extension is an extremely club-friendly deal, and any way you slice it this is good news for Cleveland. Fans aren’t resting easy, however, and the only emotion around the team right now is “what next?”. Since the end of the season, it has seemed that the Indians are trying to deal one or more of its high end starters, which would suggest a rebuild. Last weeks trade of Yan Gomes to the Nationals also appeared to turn the tides that way. If the team was still to trade Carrasco, his trade value would be exponentially higher with this extension, but the general thought is that this deal takes a Carrasco trade out of the equation.
So what’s next? The easy question to ask regards the future of two time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, who has been rumored to be in trade talks since the end of the season. If this deal has any effect on Kluber, it probably makes him more likely to be traded. Trevor Bauer is also the subject of many trade rumors, but even he himself said on Twitter it would make no sense to trade him this off season. The increase in the likelihood of a Kluber deal probably comes to the dismay of many fans, but it is a good sign for fans that they have not already traded him. If they plan on dealing him at all, they are probably not going to sell low, or a deal would have already been made.
Despite all of these questions without many answers, the Indians have a luxury most teams do not have. With the biggest news out of any other AL Central team being the Twins’ signing of Jonathan Schoop today, it doesn’t look as though anyone is coming for the Central crown any time soon. If a Kluber deal does not get done, they could bring back this group for 2019 and probably win the Central again. Time is on Cleveland’s side, and this front office has as much of it as it needs.
If we do know one thing, it’s that the Indians are probably not done this off season. If they do want to tear the whole thing down, it would take a barrage of trades similar to what is happening in Seattle right now. If they want to be a serious contender in 2019, they probably do not want to have Roberto Perez as the opening day catcher. The problem right now is they appear to be caught in the middle, and based on their recent conflicting messages, they are going to have to get themselves out of it.
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