OAKLAND -- A's pitcher Sonny Gray checks a few boxes when it comes to the type of players the Indians target via trade. He fits Cleveland's current need for rotation help, has an affordable contract and is under club control for two more seasons.
And on Friday night, with Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti in attendance at the Coliseum, Gray spun six shutout innings in a dominant performance to send the Indians to a 5-0 loss. So, what did Antonetti think of Gray's performance?
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"Who?" Antonetti replied with a smirk.
It was reported by ESPN's Buster Olney on Saturday that the Indians are among the teams evaluating Gray with 16 days left until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Truth be told, if there is a starting pitcher deemed available, especially one under contractual control beyond this season, the Indians are on the case.
Gray fits the mold, though Antonetti will never tip his hand when it comes to specific targets. Antonetti did, however, reiterate that the Indians prefer to go after controllable players. That was the case last year, when Cleveland reeled in relief ace Andrew Miller and outfielder Brandon Guyer, knowing both players came with multiple years of control.
"That's always our preference," Antonetti said, "to be able to have guys that can not only impact one pennant race, but hopefully multiple pennant races. But ultimately, what it comes down to is the acquisition cost. Typically, teams that are marketing more controllable players are going to ask for a higher return. And so, what we have to do is weigh the alternatives that are out there and find the one that makes the most sense for us."
Cleveland is currently weighing a few other things, too.
While looking for potential rotation help, the Indians are closely monitoring the comeback of right-hander Danny Salazar, who is in the latter stages of his rehab from a right shoulder injury. The Indians also know they will be without second baseman Jason Kipnis (right hamstring) and outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall (right hamstring) for a few weeks.
The fact that Kipnis and Chisenhall could be back shortly after Deadline "complicates things," according to Antonetti.
Kipnis and Chisenhall are sidelined for a few weeks. The Trade Deadline is 16 days away. Here';s Chris Antonetti on how that impacts Indians: pic.twitter.com/YvdX8u7m8u
- Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 16, 2017
Indians manager Terry Francona agreed.
"We're in a little bit of a peculiar spot," Francona said. "Two of our better players are hurt, but we know when they're coming back. Do you miss them? Yeah, but even if you could go get an everyday guy, then what do you do? It's a little bit of a unique spot. It happens to other teams, too. I think that's probably why I've always felt like the team you have, it's our responsibility to get them to play as good as they can."
"If something made sense, [the front office] will do it," he added later. "But, I like our team. I also think we knew last year when we made those trades, that that was a big deal for us. I don't think it's out of line to say that. In our market, I don't know that you can do that stuff all the time. I don't think that's fair to ownership to expect that."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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