For years now, Shane Bieber has found himself the subject of trade rumors as the Guardians look to save some payroll and capitalize on this value. But as a team in contention in recent years, it has not been a move they strongly considered.
That all could be changing this season.
Cleveland is a very talented team, but they have started 2023 with a 17-20 record, 3.5 games back of the Minnesota Twins, who look to be the superior team this year. While they are still very much in the race right now, it looks like they'll need to win the division to make the playoffs, which will be a tall task with how the Twins look.
Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, New York, Texas, Houston, Seattle, and Los Angeles will all be fighting for the Wild Card this year, and that'll make it tough for Cleveland to claim one of those spots. With Bieber being a free agent after the 2024 season, he is becoming a very real trade candidate - one the Cardinals have to pursue.
Even if the Cardinals are long shots for the playoffs by the deadline, Bieber would still be a worthwhile move. His club control through next year means he's an upgrade for 2024 as well, and at age-27, the club can work on an extension with him over the offseason. So far in 2023, he is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA, continuing to be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
The Cardinals could present the Guardians with a package of big-league talent and prospects that would help the Guardians be competitive moving forward while not just losing their valuable asset. Bieber easily becomes the Cardinals' ace and makes them a much better club.