Going into last night's games, the Indians were four games out of the AL Central lead and also four out of the AL wild card. Crazier things have happened, but I don't think anyone expects them to challenge the Tigers for the division crown. The hope is that they're still be competitive in the wild card come deadline time, which might lead to them making some moves.
Needs (likelihood to deal for position in italics)
Starting pitching-High: Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister have been solid. Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir have been horrible. They have Trevor Bauer at Triple-A and can use him if needed, but they aren't using him right now even though McAllister is on the disabled list.
Bullpen-High: They've got four guys they can count on and the rest have been brutal. Part of the problem here is their rotation hasn't been very good, so they're having to go deep into their pen. They've got a bunch of guys on the DL that are bullpen arms, but none of them figure to slot in and be major contributors, with the possible exception of Brett Myers. They could use at least one more decent arm here.
Closer-High: Chris Perez has been out and even when he's been in he's been bad. He had an injury setback the other day, so this could be something they'd address depending on how his next month goes.
Left Field-Medium: Michael Brantley has been really bad in left this season. An OPS under .700 at a corner outfield spot is not good. They could always move whoever loses out on the right field shift below to left, but that's not really solving the problem here. Nick Swisher could move to left if the Indians move Mark Reynolds to first base and play Lonnie Chisenhall at third full-time.
Right Field-Medium: Ryan Raburn and Drew Stubbs have been splitting time out there. Both play good defense, but Stubbs has been terrible with the bat. Raburn should start seeing more PAs in right field, at which point I think they'll decide if they need to bring someone else in. Again, Nick Swisher becomes an option here.
Fits on the Cub Roster
All of the Cubs' high value trade pieces could be fits here. The Cubs have Matt Garza and Scott Feldman as starters that can help the Indians and Carlos Villanueva can help them in a swing role. James Russell and Kevin Gregg could be bullpen options. The Cubs can offer Nate Schierholtz, Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus as options to plug the Indians' corner OF spots.
What's in it for the Cubs?
Sickels' Top 20 Indians Prospects
Ranked the 19th- and 20th-best organization for talent by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, this is a top heavy organization with a couple of unattainable pieces. The Cubs (and probably any other team trading with the Indians) aren't getting Trevor Bauer or Francisco Lindor in a trade. But after those two, this system gets thin, fast, particularly on the pitching side. Dorssys Paulino is a guy that people like at shortstop and even though he's struggled offensively at Low-A, he's only 18. If they want impact players through a trade, it's tough to find where the pieces going the other way are going to come from.
Overall fit- Low
I don't really see the Indians as buyers come the trade deadline and they don't really have much to offer outside of their "untouchables". I wouldn't expect any of the Cubs' top trade chips to land here. It could be an option for the Cubs' secondary trade candidates, although with the Indians' lack of pitching prospects, the Cubs will probably look elsewhere first.