Yesterday Jon Heyman reported that the Indians aren't messing around with 4th/5th starters in their trade aspirations:
It's no surprise the Indians would like to add a starter. The twist is that they are limiting themselves to a top-of-the-rotation type.
The Indians want someone to "pair with ace [All-Star] Justin Masterson'' is the way somone familiar with their thinking put it. If they don't find that special someone, they just might pass in light of the fact their rotation depth isn't a concern at the moment.
Which makes some sense. The Indians have lots of starters, they just don't have many good starters. Justin Masterson has been excellent, but beyond that, the rotation has been at best a mixed bag. Corey Kluber and Scott Kazmir have had their moments, but their body of work has been rather mediocre. Zach McAllister, who has been the Indians' second-best starter, is currently on the DL. Ubaldo Jimenez has functional this year, but he's a fifth starter now, but the pitcher the Indians thought they were getting in 2011. Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer probably aren't helping this year, and Danny Salazar, who will make his MLB debut tomorrow, is going to be on an innings limit. A common denominator with many of the pitchers mentioned is a propensity for not being able to go deep into games. That's having an affect on the bullpen, and while the Indians will probably try to strengthen it via trade, they also need to relieve a lot of the pressure being placed on it right now. And that means adding a starter that can go 6-7 innings a night.
Coincidentally, Indians GM Chris Antonetti appeared on the radio broadcast last night. He of course did not mention any specifics, but he did note that if they trade one or more of their top prospects, it needs to be for a pitcher they can control for more than one season. Of course the last time they did that it didn't work out too well, but you understand the thought process. The Indians are never going to be big free agent spenders (last winter's signings notwithstanding), and especially not spenders on starting pitchers, free agency's most expensive commodity. Both Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir will be free agents after this season, and Justin Masterson is one year from free agency, so the Indians need to be thinking of both the short-term and long-term as the trade deadline approaches.
The two pitchers Heyman mentioned have different acquisition barriers. Matt Garza is a free agent after the season, and although the Cubs are dropping smoke screens of a possible extension, he's likely going to be traded with all the interest that's out there. Yovani Gallardo is signed through 2015, but has a no-trade clause that supposedly includes the Indians. So with one target (Garza), the Indians aren't going to be willing to give up a Ronny Rodriguez or Danny Salazar, while with the other (Gallardo), a trade might not get done because of the no-trade clause.
Still, it's nice to know that the Indians are thinking big even after the past week.