As the calendar turns to 2019, rumors of a Corey Kluber trade continue. A series of money-saving moves saw Yan Gomes, Yonder Alonso, Yandy Diaz and Edwin Encarnacion traded from a division winner with Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers the principal returns. Cleveland looks to have a sizable advantage in its division despite a weak outfield. While the team already has cut more than $20 million from a below-average payroll, the club could opt to accumulate more future talent in exchange for its ace and hope to thread the needle in the AL Central.
If Cleveland does choose to trade Kluber, here are some potential packages from the teams who might be most interested in adding one of the game's best pitchers coming off another great season.
The Dodgers removed any depth issues in the outfield when they traded Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Reds, clearing space for Verdugo to take a starting role. However, if the team pursues Bryce Harper, Verdugo becomes slightly expendable. The Dodgers have two good catching prospects in Smith and Kelbert Ruiz, so making one of the two available in a big trade makes sense. In White, Cleveland receives a potential starter who took a step back in 2018 after a promising first full season in 2017.
Cleveland receives two very good prospects at positions of need, including the MLB-ready Verdugo, the very close Smith, and another potential future piece. The Dodgers don't need to make this trade to win the division as they have a cushy lead on paper, but Kluber increases their stranglehold on getting to the postseason and gives them another ace in the playoffs as they try to win their first World Series in more than three decades.