When the Mike Clevinger deal went down on August 31st, 2020, it featured a slew of talent coming back to Cleveland, most of it at or near the big league […]
When the Mike Clevinger deal went down on August 31st, 2020, it featured a slew of talent coming back to Cleveland, most of it at or near the big league level. Heading to the Padres were two big leaguers, Clevinger and Greg Allen, along with the infamous player to be named later. At the time, it was rumored that player would be Matt Waldron, but because he wasn’t in the Indians alternative camp at the time, he wasn’t eligible to be traded until the end of the season. With the World Series wrapped up and the off-season officially begun, Waldron was officially named as the final piece and the trade completed on November 9th.
Waldron is an interesting right handed reliever and continues the Indians strategy in recent seasons of trading extremely low level players to build up MLB depth. While it used to be unheard of for Cleveland to move those players below high A, they have ramped things up in recent seasons with many like Tahnaj Thomas, Gionti Turner and Dante Mendoza dealt in the last few years. Waldron was also part of another somewhat recent change in strategy as he was a four year college starter at Nebraska where he had an extremely low walk rate. The Indians have grabbed up every well developed command pitcher out of the college ranks that they could in recent drafts and this strategy has already shown big league results.
Waldron was drafted in the 18th round in 2019 and added velocity and strike outs upon his professional debut and continued to have great command, absolutely dominating in Arizona. Of course, he was much older than the average player and was quickly promoted to Mahoning Valley in 2019. There, he made ten appearances and struck out 40 batters in 35.2 innings. Amazingly, he walked just four batters and, after no walks in Arizona, finished the year with a 0.8 BB/9 and 0.788 WHIP.
As a reliever, Waldron is everything a team could want and he was likely to stay in that position with Cleveland due to the extreme starting depth, but the fact that he was a starter in college and averaged nearly four innings per appearance (despite just one start) means he could return to the rotation once minor league ball starts up again in 2021.
In general, this trade appears to be a win/win as Clevinger will be with the Padres through 2022 while Gabriel Arias, Joey Cantillo and Owen Miller all have quick paths to the big leagues with Austin Hedges, Cal Quantrill and Josh Naylor already reaching that level. Adding Waldron to the deal appears to be another win/win scenario as he gets out of the extreme depth of the lower minors with Cleveland and has the opportunity to impress some new eyes. Waldron was included in IBI’s initial ranking of top 10 relievers, but given his distance from the big leagues, losing him won’t hurt the franchise in that regard.