Darvish, who’s a free agent at the end of 2017, is the most highly-regarded rental starter known to be on the market this year, and he’s repeatedly been linked to contenders such as the Dodgers and Yankees. But as the Indians, who are just two games ahead of the surging Royals in the AL Central, look to get to the World Series again, they could try to boost their chances by going after Darvish, who made his fourth All-Star team in five big-league seasons earlier this month.
Cleveland actually has a surplus of starting pitching depth right now, with six veteran starters—Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Mike Clevinger—on their major-league roster plus 2016 ALCS hero Ryan Merritt pitching well in Triple-A. But Bauer and Tomlin have struggled all season, Salazar had a bad first half, and the Indians don’t really have a starter that stands out as a “co-ace” to Kluber. Cleveland learned the hard way after late-season injuries to Carrasco and Salazar last year that a team can never have enough good pitching depth, so it can’t hurt for them to add another proven starter, especially if it’s an established ace like Darvish.
Though Darvish may be willing to go anywhere at this point since he’s going to be a free agent after the season anyway, it’s worth noting that the Indians are one of the 10 teams on Darvish’s limited no-trade list. Even if Cleveland is able to outbid other suitors for Darvish’s services, that may be an additional obstacle as they look to complete a deal.
Cleveland’s prospect stash has been decimated over the past year as Bradley Zimmer graduated to the majors and Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield were traded for Andrew Miller, but they’ve still got the top catching prospect in baseball, Francisco Mejia, and one of the league’s top starting pitching prospects, Triston McKenzie. If they’re willing to deal their best prospects, they’ll likely have a good shot in the bidding for Darvish.