Michael Brantley is the only player on the Cleveland Indians' roster to start more than 60 games as a major-league outfielder in 2015. And he's expected to miss the start of the regular season after right shoulder surgery.
The Indians would like to add at least two outfielders between now and Opening Day, so it's not surprising that they've been active in trade talks with multiple teams.
The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams to discuss trade possibilities with the Indians this offseason, according to major-league sources. The general framework of those deals would involve Cleveland trading from its estimable rotation depth to acquire an everyday outfielder.
The Indians are the rare team holding six bona-fide starters this early in the offseason: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Cody Anderson, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin. New general manager Mike Chernoff can use one as currency on the trade market.
While the precise proposals remain unknown, the following possibilities could be in play:
. . . The Yankees can move Brett Gardner, now that they've obtained Aaron Hicks from Minnesota. Gardner, an All-Star this year, has the versatility to play left or center field. But he's guaranteed $39.5 million through 2018 -- an unwieldy sum for the low-budget Indians, unless the Yankees include cash in the exchange.
. . . The Dodgers' outfield logjam persists, with high earners Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig available to varying degrees. Ethier is coming off a productive season in a regular (although not everyday) role, while injury-plagued years for Crawford and Puig diminished their trade value. Scott Van Slyke's right-handed bat could fit Cleveland's roster, depending on Chernoff's other moves.
. . . The Blue Jays face an intriguing decision in center field: Do they believe enough in Dalton Pompey's future to trade Kevin Pillar -- a Gold Glove-caliber defender -- following his career year? Or, conversely, are they committed enough to Pillar that they can part with Pompey, who turns only 23 next month and was their Opening Day center fielder this year? (For now, at least, a trade involving one of Toronto's corner outfielders -- Ben Revere or Jose Bautista -- seems unlikely.)
A trade between Cleveland and Toronto would be fascinating, given the political intrigue surrounding Mark Shapiro's departure from the Indians to become president and CEO of the Blue Jays.
But if both sides see value in a trade, undoubtedly they'll look beyond the public-relations complexities. The Blue Jays must plan their rotation as if David Price isn't coming back, and the Indians need to start work on their most glaring need.