The Cleveland Indians are apparently looking for outfield help and the Boston Red Sox cannot in good faith identify who its number two starter is behind David Price. Coincidentally, the Indians have a plethora of young, front of the rotation arms and the Sox have a slew of outfielders.
The two teams make ideal trade candidates.
But only at the right price.
Let’s narrow down who might be on the table: The Indians signed Corey Kluber long-term and I don’t think the Sox make a move for the terribly inconsistent Trevor Bauer, which means we can almost assuredly believe either Danny Salazar or Carlos Carrasco are the targets the Red Sox would be interested in from Cleveland.
So what would be a fair price for either one?
The Shelby Miller trade is the most recent acquisition of a high end pitcher. It’s also widely known at this point, the Diamondbacks overpaid, but it’s very likely either Indians’ pitcher has the higher ceiling. Here are their comparisons right now if they were to be traded this winter (including Miller, who already was)
Miller: Age: 25. Year of FA: 2019. Last Season:205.1 innings, 171K, 2.99 ERA.
Carrasco: Age: 29. Year of FA: 2019. Last Season:183.1 innings, 216K, 3.63 ERA.
Salazar: Age: 26 Year of FA: 2021 Last Season: 185 innings, 195K, 3.45 ERA.
When Miller was traded it was for the Diamondbacks’ top prospect overall in Dansby Swanson and its best pitching prospect in Aaron Blair, plus a quality outfielder in Ender Inciarte. Salazar is probably the most valuable out of the group, a year older than Miller but with two extra years of control and better peripherals, so at worst, he could command something similar, whereas Carrasco might come a little cheaper.
If the Red Sox were to make a move for Salazar, it would be somewhat shocking if they surrendered either Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts, either of whom could get the deal done almost by themselves but are likely untouchable for pitchers with ace potential but little track record. So suffice it to say a deal for Salazar would need Yoan Moncada, who is likely to be an everyday outfielder if he pans out and is a top prospect in the game and in the Red Sox system. Both Swansby and Moncada are generally ranked in the top 10 for top prospects in the game.
Following the Miller template, the Sox would also have to part with a top pitching prospect. Michael Kopech would have been ideal but his recent injury and fight with a teammate may have made him lose some stock for now. The two best alternative options would be Henry Owens (#44 before getting promoted to the majors) or Brian Johnson, the Sox #3 prospect currently ranked #40. Blair is the new #44 in prospect ranking now that Owens is no longer considered one.
For Salazar: Moncada, Owens/Johnson and Bradley Jr./Castillo
For Carrasco, the deal can be less of a punch to the Red Sox assets. One would think they can hold onto Moncada, Betts and Bogaerts and use Johnson/Owens and then the same outfield combination of Castillo/Bradley Jr.
For Carrasco: Owens/Johnson and Bradley Jr./Castillo.
Of course, if Castillo and Carrasco are involved, money would have to change hands to some degree.
Carrasco or Salazar would both be better than anyone in the Red Sox rotation not named “Price” and by targeting Carrasco, it’s realistic the Red Sox can have a 1-2 punch for the rest of Price’s career and still hang onto a top pitching asset, two young cost-controlled players and its top overall prospect in Moncada.