Impact of Trading Civale | Moving Forward

August 1, 2023

Andy Billman Tony Camino

Trading of Civale to the Rays for Manzardo Initial Thoughts


1 – Why Make This Trade?

I really enjoy the Guardians as a fan because I understand and usually agree with the moves they make to put the best product on the field for a club that does not have the ending amount of cash to spend.  But I do not like the trade of Aaron Civale to the Tampa Bay Rays for prospect Kyle Manzardo.

Most importantly, the Guardians are in a good position to make the playoffs again in 2023, and with this trade that puts some doubt in that they can do it without a second healthy veteran pitcher currently.  

Aaron Civale is very affordable for the Guardians budget and in team control for two and a half more seasons.  That is a huge help to a team like the Guardians and fits perfectly in what they do, so why trade him?  It goes against what they traditionally do. 

The Guardians are now a pitcher short once again in making a full staff.  They are going to have to scramble again to find a 5th starter after they just got over this problem with the addition of Noah Syndergaard. 

They are also putting the young pitchers at risk as they have to keep their innings down, which means extra work for the bullpen, and without a steady 5th starter, you are putting additional pressure on both the young arms and the pen that can lead to longer-term issues in future seasons. 

They might have to make another trade to bring in a veteran pitcher, which defeats the purpose of the trade.  Cleveland must believe that Cal Quantrill is close to returning, and or that Triston McKenzie and Shane Bieber will be back at some point in September.

2 – Mixed Message

This trade will send mixed messages to the locker room.  I can see veterans, especially Jose Ramirez, being frustrated as they want to win and get into the playoffs this season, and with the trade this signals a player for the future not for the current 2023 season.  This acquisition of Kyle Manzardo does nothing to help the club win in 2023.

3 – All-In 

Obviously, there are people in the Guardians organization who like Manzardo and hopefully, they are correct as this is an all-in move going one-for-one on a pitcher who the organization knows very well, for a prospect.  A lot of risk for a prospect especially when the Guardians are trying to win the AL Central Division.  Hopefully, Manzardo is worth the reward.

Impact Looking Forward vs Initial Impact


Rumors had been circulating that the team was looking to sell high on Aaron Civale, the Guardians moved the veteran pitcher to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday in exchange for the number 37 prospect in baseball, Kyle Manzardo. Civale has been performing exceptionally well recently, boasting a remarkable 0.99 walks and hits per inning since the all-star break.

  • Guardians shift focus to 2024 adding a power bat for the future
  • Rotation for 2024 gains clarity, while the 2023 rotation gets more confusing
  • Cashing in on Civale’s value but a questionable clubhouse message sent

Guardians get a potential middle-of-lineup staple for future

Kyle Manzardo seems to possess all the attributes of a safe power prospect, as he demonstrates excellent pitch selection skills that lead to high walk rates and a strong batting average, complementing his power-hitting abilities. He has garnered high praise from scouts across the league, and his adeptness at drawing walks and swinging at favorable pitches aligns perfectly with the organization’s current philosophy and approach.

  • #37 ranked prospect in baseball, becomes team’s #3 prospect
  • .291 career average in minors
  • .935 career OPS and great pitch selection give him a very high floor

Long-term, Manzardo’s proficiency at playing first base positions him as the primary candidate for the position in the future. Josh Naylor, on the other hand, would be able to transition into the full-time designated hitter role, occasionally making spot starts at first base. The envisioned future lineup, with Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor, Kyle Manzardo, and George Valera in the middle of the order, is undeniably exciting, yet it remains just a dream for now. The idea of trade is promising, and hopefully, Manzardo can provide the team with much-needed power in the heart of the lineup.


The 2024 Rotation is much clearer

Tanner Bibee

Triston Mckenzie

Gavin Williams

Logan Allen

Shane Bieber / Joey Cantillo

For the 2024 Guardians’ rotation, Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee, Tristan McKenzie, and Logan Allen are almost certainly guaranteed to be part of the team. This leaves one spot open, and the decision had to be made between Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale. Due to Bieber’s injury this season, he couldn’t be traded until the offseason, and his value significantly declined as a result. Considering Civale’s impressive performance and the limited market for starting pitching, it became unlikely that Bieber would have fetched a better prospect than Kyle Manzardo.

The front office was faced with the choice of either letting go of Bieber in the winter for a worse return or trading Civale now for a more valuable return. There’s still a possibility that Bieber might be moved if the team doesn’t believe he’s worth the deal to avoid arbitration, and in that case, prospect Joey Cantillo should be ready to step in by 2024.


Great value trade, tough message sent

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, being just 0.5 games behind first place in the AL Central. However, realistically, the Guardians are at best the sixth-best team in the American League, and that’s without even considering the return of Aaron Judge for the Yankees and the presence of Shohei Ohtani in the Angels. Opportunities to win should never be taken for granted, but we’ve witnessed this scenario far too many times where the team makes it to the playoffs only to be swept with meager performances, putting up just two runs.

The team’s past moves have demonstrated their ability to sell off starting pitching at the right times, and hopefully, they are making the right call once again with this trade.

The most challenging aspect of this trade is the message it sends to the players who have battled through rough patches this year. Despite facing numerous challenges, they’ve fought hard and managed to position themselves for a shot at winning the division in the final two months of the season. The rotation for the remainder of the season raises questions, particularly with the possibility of limiting the rookie pitchers. However, if Bieber and McKenzie can make a return, that would address many of those concerns, and it’s likely why the organization felt comfortable making this trade.


Recap

Given Civale’s injury history and his projection as a middle-of-the-rotation starter, the return on this trade appears logical for the Guardians on paper. It allows them to address the logjam at pitcher for the 2024 season while adding a potential power hitter for the future. However, the message sent to the current roster this year might be uninspiring. Despite this move, I don’t believe it drastically changes the outlook for 2023, as the Guardians still have a chance to contend in the division, especially considering the Twins’ recent sweep against the Royals. While the rotation for the playoff run might raise some questions, I don’t think Aaron Civale is the determining factor between the Guardians winning a World Series this year or not.


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