July 7, 2012; Cleveland, OH USA: Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric P. Mull-USPRESSWIRE

Deadline Central: Cleveland Indians

As the trade deadline approaches and the rumors begin to fly, I thought I would take a team by team look at the A.L. Central, and what the trade deadline could bring for the franchise. With the new CBA in place, it is going to be interesting to see the type of movement we see around the league, if there is much at all. The Central is interesting in that maybe it is a little better than anticipated, and that could make for an exciting deadline.

Here is a look at the Cleveland Indians…

Buyers or Sellers?

I really don’t think Cleveland is either at this point. And I don’t think they should be either. This could make for a boring rest of the season for Indians fans, but they went and got their guy in Ubaldo Jimenez last year. Where are they realistically going to improve? The Indians are in a position such that they are clearly the 3rd best team in the division and kind of in a middle of a rebuild/contending team position. Their pitching isn’t good enough to stick in the division race until the end, even if they can compete for the 2nd wild card. I don’t think it’s smart to mortgage more of their teams long term prospects to hopefully slide into a 2nd wildcard spot.

Selling isn’t a good option either. Their best players that could bring something back are all of the younger variety, and have more value to the Indians than they do in the trade market.

Team Needs:

It’s clearly starting pitching. While Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Derek Lowe are nice names, and all have had some success at some point, if the Indians do make a move it should be for starting pitching.

They could also potentially use a corner outfielder. Matt LaPorta hasn’t worked out as expected to this point, and Nick Weglarz never materialized as the prospect that some thought he would.

State of the Farm:

The Indians farm system drastically took a hit last year at the deadline when it sent Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to the Rockies for Jimenez. I tend to be in the minority in believing that the Indians system is a little underrated at this point. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bottom third of baseball system, but I think it’s not too bad considering strong 2011 and 2012 drafts.

Their issue like many others is that their best talent is in the low minors, and will be a couple of years before it shows up in the big leagues.

Potential Partners:

The only thing I could see the Indians getting is a corner outfielder that won’t cost a ton in terms of prospects. I’m not sure I know who would fit that bill at this point. In other words, I could see another Kosuke Fukudome type acquisition for the Indians, but this time for LF.

Prognosis:

If last year is any indication, the front office of the Indians are going to believe they are in the race and find a way to do something. Whatever they do, I can’t think that it’s going to be enough to push them into the playoffs over the Tigers and the White Sox. I just don’t see that type of talent in the minors to get a team changing move done.

They should also avoid selling too.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Ubaldo Jimenez

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