While the baseball world keeps an eye on where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado end up in free agency this winter, there is a large faction of New York Yankees fans waiting to see what happens to Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber.
After re-signing Carlos Carrasco last week, it became close to a guarantee that the Indians will be trading either Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Kluber’s presence on the trade market offers the possibility of a massive return for the small-market Indians as the 32-year-old right-hander should be worth a king’s ransom in young talent.
Kluber is under team control through 2021, bringing stability to one of the best arms in the American League.
Over the past five seasons, Kluber has won two Cy Young Awards while finishing in the voting’s top three on two other occasions. Since 2014, he’s averaged 17 wins with an ERA of just 2.85.
The Yankees have already made a move to improve their starting rotation, acquiring James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners. However, they need one more top-tier arm to put them over the top as World Series favorites. Kluber would do that as he would round out a rotation that would then feature Paxton, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia.
As Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings heated up on Monday from Las Vegas, trade talks involving Kluber reportedly intensified as the Indians look to acquire a young outfielder to headline a package deal, per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers have been in the center of those conversations with top prospect Alex Verdugo, the Yankees are still deemed as a team to watch for. Morosi noted that the Yankees would be a prime trade candidate considering they could offer young outfielder Estevan Florial, the organization’s top prospect.
The 21-year-old spent a majority of the 2018 season in high A-ball, batting a combined .283 with six home runs and 35 RBI in 84 games. He is projected to be a power-hitting speedster with a big arm in the outfield and is expected by MLB Pipeline to make his big-league debut in 2020.
Including Florial in a deal would be the Yankees’ only chance to land Kluber considering 10 of their next 11 best prospects are pitchers.