Reports indicate that the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians are discussing a trade for Mike Clevinger. The right-handed pitcher has emerged in the last few seasons and could be on the verge of breaking out, making him very appealing to the Padres.
The San Diego Padres would love to add an “ace” to their young rotation.
A.J. Preller and the Padres missed out on Cole Hamels, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, and Gerrit Cole this winter. All were free-agents and available for the right price. The Padres’ only option now is to acquire a pitcher who possibly fits that mold via a trade. There are not very many teams willing to move pitching at this point, so the Padres will need to be creative in the coming weeks.
Recent reports indicate that the Padres and Indians are discussing Mike Clevinger as a possible fit for the Padres’ rotation. It is not known what it would take for the Friars to acquire the blossoming right-handed pitcher. He produced career bests in ERA (2.71), FIP (2.49), WAR (4.5), strikeouts per nine innings (12.07), and walks per nine innings (2.64) last year for Cleveland. The cost will be hefty, but the Padres have the prospects and major league players that could entice the Indians. There is a strong feeling that this deal could get done eventually by the two teams.
A.J. Preller is very aggressive as he should be right now. The Padres have a young core of players who are possibly on the verge of something special. Clevinger would be a great addition as he is a pitcher who seems likely to continue his growth. Preller is also at a point in his career where he needs to start producing and showing results. “Heads will roll,” Ron Fowler admitted if the Padres do not soon find success.
Acquiring Clevinger could go a long way for the Padres. The funky-motioned right-handed pitcher is getting phenomenal velocity on his four-seam fastball. The pitch is quickly becoming one of the best weapons in the game. The average speed on Clevinger’s fastball grew from 92.5 mph in 2017 to an impressive 95.4 mph this past year, according to baseball savant. Batters recorded a .192 average off the pitch in 2019 compared to .263 rate in 2018. The lanky pitcher is getting more and more swings and misses on the pitch as well as his whiff rate was up to 30% this year from 20.4% in 2018.
In the past, Clevinger’s slider has been his dominant out-pitch. He gets an incredible break on the pitch as it moves an average of 17 inches away from right-handed hitters. The slider also gets 44 inches of drop on average on the ball, according to baseball savant. The league average is 6 inches and 36 inches of drop to put his numbers into context. He changes speeds effectively on the pitch as well, which is also very impressive. Clevinger’s third pitch is a changeup that gets decent sink and tail to it. He has the arsenal to go through a lineup three times and pitch effectively. He has “ace-like” tendencies.
Take a look at this video of him in action striking out 12 batters last summer.
Mike Clevinger is legally required to change his last name to Klevinger after last night’s performance.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 18, 2019
The Padres are surely interested in this pitcher as he is getting better with age. Clevinger is 29. He is not a young prospect. The former 4th-round pick of the Angels in 2011 blew out his arm in 2012 and underwent Tommy John surgery. The Angels traded him to Cleveland for Vinnie Pestano, and Clevinger took off from there in the Indians’ system. He has been through the wringer and is hungry for success.
Clevinger owns a career 41-21 record in his four years of service time in the majors. He’s recorded a 3.20 ERA, and a 1.188 WHIP in just over 500 innings pitched. The pitcher struck out 563 batters in that time but has struggled with control, issuing 193 free passes. If Clevinger throws strikes, he is nearly impossible to hit. Repeating his motion can be difficult, but he has improved of late.
The Padres and Indians are speaking about another possible trade. Rumor has it that the two sides could pick up negotiations on Monday. The Holiday season is near, and the Padres would be ecstatic to land an ace pitcher in their stocking. The price will be steep, though. But when you are building towards success, sometimes you need to take risks. If the Padres open up the pocketbooks and allow some more prized prospects to be traded, a trade could come together rather quickly.