Cleveland Indians Trade Deadline: Indians would like to add starting pitcher, but probably won't get one

Bud Norris - Doug Pensinger

Why are the Indians looking to add a starting pitcher? To answer that question, you have to look at the projected 2014 and 2015 rotations.

CBS Sports' Danny Knobler encapsulates where the Indians stand today:

If the Indians didn't go get a Javier Lopez because he cost too much in prospects, then it's very doubtful that they'll be getting a starting pitcher even though they're looking for one. Which begs the question: why are the Indians looking for starting pitching? To answer that question, you need to look ahead.

Of the five starters currently in the rotation, two of them will probably be free agents this winter (Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez*) and a third can be a free agent after the 2014 season (Justin Masterson). Now I'd hope that the Indians and Masterson can agree to an extension this winter, but the other two are likely pitching for somebody else in 2014. That leaves two open rotation spots in 2014, and although there are some promising arms in AAA that could fill those spots (Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco) - not to mention Josh Tomlin - I think the Indians would be much more comfortable having those four compete for one spot.

For instance, as things hold today, here's what the 2014 rotation looks like:

Justin Masterson

Corey Kluber

Zach McAllister

Two of Danny Salazar/Carlos Carrasco/Trevor Bauer/Josh Tomlin

Hence the interest in acquiring a pitcher signed through at least 2014. Bud Norris, who is not an ace by any stretch of the imagination, would fit the bill both because he's not making much money (just $3.0M in 2013) and would be under the Indians' control through 2015. However, that has made him attractive to other clubs, and so the asking has gone up and up.

But if the Indians don't add a starter today, you'll be hearing about the need for one this winter, with perhaps Asdrubal Cabrera being dangled on the trade market.

*Jimenez has a mutual option for 2014, which he'll turn down. Because of his decent 2013 and his durability, there's no way he'll get less than a two-year contract on the open market.

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