The Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees both have a problem. Each franchise can help the other solve their respective issue with mutual benefit.
On the eve of baseball’s Winter Meetings, the Tribe is looking to cut payroll, while the Bronx Bombers desire to add another front-line starter. These goals, we believe, can be reached easily.
Cleveland is looking to move Jason Kipnis, a solid 8-year infielder with a .267 career average, 106 home runs and 128 stolen bases. Indians GM Mike Chernoff would like to subtract Kipnis’ $14,666,667 salary from his 2019 payroll.
Chernoff’s Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman took note of the Cleveland GM’s willingness to talk about possibly moving his two star pitchers – right-handers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer – for the right return. This is after he signed right-hander Carlos Carrasco to a lucrative extension that could keep him with the Tribe through 2023.
“Our top priority in the off-season is to improve our starting pitching,’’ said Cashman, reflecting on where his team fell short in the postseason as compared to the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, despite winning 100 games.
Cashman prefers to develop pitchers in-house, and has with righty Luis Severino and lefty Jordan Montgomery, but is not averse to free-agent signings to add stalwarts such as Mike Mussina and C.C. Sabathia.
Some signings and trades work out – some, Sonny Gray and A.J. Burnett – have not. Cashman, after Domingo German’s inconsistencies and Jonathan Loaisiga’s injury issues, acted upon upgrading the Yankees rotation by obtaining left-hander James Paxton from Seattle Nov. 20.
The Yankees targeted lefty-hander Patrick Corbin in free-agency, but he accepted a 6-year, $140 million offer from the Washington Nationals. Cashman’s next move needs to be to engage Chernoff and complete a trade for either Kluber or Bauer.
This is why Kipnis is that important. If the Yankees are willing to take 31-year-old infielder (he turns 32 next April 3) and his nearly $15 million salary, the cost to bringing back either Kluber or Bauer will not be that prohibitive. On the other side, the Yankees have the level of starting rotation they require.
Kluber makes $17 million and is under team control through 2020 with a team option for 2021. Bauer is at $6,525 million and also under team control through 2020.
In taking back Kipnis, the Yankees could send Cleveland Sonny Gray, who was not a fit in New York and makes $6.5 million, outfielder Clint Frazier, who came to the Yankees in the Andrew Miller trade and the Indians would not mind having back, reliable reliever Chad Green and pitching prospects such as German, Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo for Kluber or Bauer.
Naturally there can be adjustments, but the Yankees taking Kipnis is the key to keeping the cost reasonable. Either Kluber or Bauer would full Cashman’s needs here.
The major talk among Yankees fans on social media is how the team can’t contend for a World Series without infielder Manny Machado or outfielder Bryce Harper. Cashman needs to solidify the pitching first.
The opportunity to do business with Cleveland is there.