How the team was going to afford this bat was a question to ask, but with the team sliding eight games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see the Indians trade some players and still add a player or two as well.
Cleveland did add a player to the roster and even another one for about an hour or two but with several deals over two days, the Indians managed to make many wonder just what the hell the team is thinking.
Let's start with the trade that brought the one player in these trades to Cleveland immediately as the Indians traded reliever Phil Maton and minor league catcher Yainer Diaz to Houston for outfielder Myles Straw.
Straw had started in centerfield for most of this season for the Astros, batting .262 with two homers, thirty-four RBI, and seventeen stolen bases.
The twenty-six-year-old Straw hits righthanded, is a plus outfielder defensively, lacks power, and has excellent speed.
In other words, Straw fits the Indians' top fetish in outfielders- fast guys without power and they can add to the several that they already have in that department in Bradley Zimmer, Oscar Mercado, Daniel Johnson, and seemingly most of their outfielders since Alex Cole.
Straw will likely be given a chance to own the centerfield job as he did in Houston, and hopefully, he'll know how to call a flyball as it seems needs to be worked on with the Indians, as Bradley Zimmer and Daniel Johnson showed last night as the pair turned a deep flyball into a Yoan Moncada homer by running into each other, but I don't see him as an upgrade over the mediocre bunch that they have already on the roster and its a safe bet that one is going out the door to either Columbus or perhaps gone period.
Maton was an average reliever (2-0 4.57 ERA in 41 innings) by most numbers, but his 61 strikeouts in 41 innings this season suggest that he may be on the verge of stepping to a higher level of performance at the age of 28 and Diaz was hitting .314 with five homers for low A Lynchburg stamping him as a prospect of note.
I think Maton is on the verge of being an excellent bullpen piece and I hate the Indians losing him.
While I don't have a problem with the Indians trading for an outfielder, I would have liked to have seen someone that isn't so similar to what the team already possesses.
I don't think Straw looks any better or worse than what the team already has and if that's the case- why trade away a decent setup guy in Maton or what appears to be an interesting catching prospect in Diaz?
With the Straw trade raising a few red flags, the other trades set alarms of various noise.
The one trade that I really liked was with the Tampa Bay Rays as the soon-to-be former Tribe shipped another of their clump of outfielders in Jordan Luplow and minor league pitcher D.J. Johnson to the Rays for minor league pitcher Peyton Battenfield.
Battenfield was a combined 5-0 with an ERA of 2.14 in fourteen starts between High A Bowling Green and AA Montgomery with 95 strikeouts in 67 innings.
Battenfield was the Astros ninth-round pick in 2019 from Oklahoma State and his numbers make him a pitcher that I think could be very helpful in the long run.
Battenfield was assigned to AA Akron.
Jordan Luplow had been on a rehab assignment with AAA Columbus and will remain on assignment with Tampa's AAA affiliate in Durham.
Luplow hit only .173 in his 121 plate appearances this season before an ankle injury but did hit seven homers and with his reputation as a lefty murderer, it made sense for Tampa to take a chance at a bounceback off their bench.
Journeyman pitcher D.J. Johnson was included in the deal after spending most of the season at AAA Columbus in their bullpen (1-2 with six saves, 3.32 ERA) and will give Tampa Bay a veteran option in their bullpen, should they require it.
This one was my favorite of all the trades considering the potential of Battenfield and the value of journeymen Luplow and Johnson.
The day before the deadline was a bit of a head-scratcher but it was possible that the market was limited for veteran second baseman Cesar Hernandez despite a career season in power numbers.
Hernandez was traded to division rival Chicago for minor league pitcher Konnor Pilkington and while I don't think the Indians are legitimately a threat to catch the White Sox, it was a sign of surrender to send Hernandez there.
Hernandez was hitting only. 234, but his eighteen homers exceeded his career-high by three already which I would have thought would have made him more desirable to a contender.
Hernandez was a free agent at the end of the year, although there is a team option and the Indians have a group of young infielders ready to move up next season, so I understand moving him but it's a really bad look when you send him to a team that you are supposedly trying to catch, even it isn't realistic to do so.
Konnor Pilkington is a lefthanded starter, who pitched fairly well for AA Birmingham in fourteen starts (4-4 3.48 ERA with 71 strikeouts) this season.
Pilkington was the White Sox third-round selection in 2018 from Mississippi State and had struggled until this season as a pro but I like his 71 strikeouts in 62 innings.
My problem with this trade isn't Pilkington, who like Peyton Battenfield was assigned to AA Akron, trading Hernandez, or even trading to the White Sox as a division rival.
It's more about another bad look for a franchise that seems to be piling bad looks up in a large photo album.
The final deal is one of those deals that are all about the money even though the team insists it's not about the money as the Indians sent their top free-agent signee in Eddie Rosario to the Atlanta Braves along with cash considerations for veteran Pablo Sandoval, who was immediately released by Cleveland.
Rosario was on the disabled list and I'm sure that hurt his marketability but he didn't play up to expectations hitting .254 with seven homers and forty-six RBI and the Indians shipped some cash to Atlanta to help with the remainder of his one year eight million contract.
Rosario wasn't going to be back next year and again I was Ok moving him but it looks like the team is being cheap as usual to trade him for a player that they immediately released.
Sure, the trade was a way to open a spot on the 40 man roster and it will allow a few outfielders to get some at-bats and that's all well and good but it just makes the organization look so awful.
Look, I know the Indians were tied up a bit trying to trade an injured Eddie Rosario and I thought they did very well in getting Peyton Battenfield from Tampa Bay.
But I'm far more pessimistic about the trade for Myles Straw than it seems that most are and the small payroll with promises of more next season with a new minority owner could be true but it's never going to be as much help as the franchise needs to compete consistently.
The news out of Progressive Field of late has been good on few occasions, it didn't get a lot better at the trade deadline.