Cleveland Indians Trade Mike Clevinger In Nine-Player Deal With San Diego Padres

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Ten years ago, the Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Jake Westbrook to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a three-team, four-player trade. Cleveland’s return on the trade was a little-known Class AA pitcher in the San Diego Padres’ organization.

His name was Corey Kluber, who won two Cy Young Awards in Cleveland on his way to becoming one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history.

Indians officials have a long and well-established knack for identifying and acquiring minor league players from other organizations who became significant major league players in Cleveland. Some other examples: Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips – and Mike Clevinger.

On Monday, a few hours before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, the Indians used Clevinger, whom, as a minor leaguer, they acquired in a 2014 trade with the Angels, in a similar type deal. The Indians traded Clevinger to San Diego for six players, half of them minor league prospects. Cleveland also included spare outfielder Greg Allen in the deal, plus a player to be named later.

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Coming to Cleveland are Padres catcher Austin Hedges, reliever Cal Quantrill, outfielder Josh Naylor, and three minor leaguers: shortstop Gabriel Arias, pitcher Joey Cantillo, and infielder Owen Miller.

None of the acquisitions addressed the Indians’ primary need, which was an impact outfield bat to bolster what has been one of the worst offensive teams in the American League. At the start of play Monday Cleveland ranked 14th in the AL in home runs, batting average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+.

Hedges, who has a .199 career average in six major league seasons, won’t move the needle at all. He’s hitting .158 this year, and he’ll either backup or split catching duties with Indians starter Roberto Perez, who is hitting .150.

The upside there, however, is that Perez and Hedges are both elite defensive catchers. Perez won a Gold Glove last year, when he led all AL catchers by throwing out 40.6% of attempted base stealers, and played the whole season (118 games) without a passed ball. Hedges was a National League Gold Glove finalist last year, and his 21 defensive runs saved, were second among major league catchers, behind Perez.

Indians president Chris Antonetti said the addition of Hedges gives Cleveland, “the best defensive catching contingent in the major leagues.”

Quantrill was the eighth overall selection in the 2016 draft. The 25-year-old right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in 10 appearances this year, nine of them in relief. In parts of two big league seasons he is 8-8, with a 4.79 ERA.

Naylor, 23, is the older brother of Bo Naylor, the Indians’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft. Josh was the 12th overall selection in the 2015 draft. In 36 at bats for the Padres this year he is hitting .278 with one home run and four RBI. The Indians on Monday designated for assignment outfielder Domingo Santana, clearing the way for Naylor to get regular at bats in left or right field.

 Arias, Cantillo and Miller were ranked by Baseball America as 9th, 11th, and 15th prospects in the Padres’ minor league system. At age 19 last year Arias hit .302 with 75 RBI at high Class-A California League, and could eventually be a candidate to replace Francisco Lindor, whom the Indians may trade before he becomes a free agent following the 2021 season.

Cantillo is a left-handed pitcher who went 10-4 with a 2.26 ERA in a combined 22 starts at low and high Class-A. Miller, 23, has hit .307 in his two minor league seasons, with 17 home runs and 101 RBI in 805 at bats.

Clevinger was 1-1 with a 3.18 in four starts for the Indians this year. His season was interrupted for three weeks in August when he and teammate Zach Plesac were placed on the restricted list, then optioned to the Indians’ alternate training site after the two players violated the Indians’ and Major League Baseball’s protocol by leaving the team’s hotel in Chicago following a game against the White Sox.

Clevinger was added to the Indians major league roster to make a start against Minnesota on August 26. In a 6-3 Indians victory, Clevinger, in what turned out to be his last start in an Indians’ uniform, pitched six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, with six strikeouts and one walk. In his five years with the Indians, the 29-year-old right-hander had a record of 42-22.

Ironically, the pitcher who will replace Clevinger in the rotation will be Plesac, who in his three starts prior to being removed from the roster was 1-1, with a 1.29 ERA.

Although he didn’t acquire the impact bat the team needs, Antonetti said he was pleased with the trade.

“Our goal is to build a sustainable, competitive team,” he said. “We’re bringing three players to our major league team that will impact us and help us in a variety of ways, but also brings some building blocks for the future.”

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