Business 101: it's all about the leverage, folks.
The Cleveland Indians surely know that, and they're trying to gain as much leverage as possible before they trade their star pitchers away. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer could certainly be moved during the offseason, but the Indians are waiting until at least one of the other free agent pitchers have been signed before trading anyone.
It's a good idea for Cleveland
As #Indians discuss Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer with other clubs, sources say Cleveland’s likely approach is to wait until one (or more) of Corbin, Keuchel and Eovaldi sign before trading a starter. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2018
The free agents on the market right now include Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, and Nathan Eovaldi. That's a ton of pitching talent in addition to Kluber and Bauer being available via trade, so it's not hard to see why Cleveland wants to wait. With these guys still available as free agents, teams could easily offer less in any deals for the two Indian hurlers, knowing they have fallback options who won't cost prospect capital.
On the course of their careers, Kluber has pitched over 1,300 innings with a 3.09 ERA and 1,423 strikeouts. He's won 95 total games. Bauer, on the other hand, has won 59 games on a 3.93 ERA with 926 strikeouts in 904 IP, but is coming off a breakout 2018 campaign where he was arguably better than the Klubot (12-6, 2.21, 221 strikeouts).
Sources say the Mets have spoken with the Indians about Corey Kluber. The two teams had talked about Yan Gomes before he was dealt to the Nationals, but the Mets' interest now appears to also extend to Kluber, who had Mets manager Mickey Callaway as a pitching coach in Cleveland.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 2, 2018
With numbers like those, teams will surely be willing to pay the extra value for either Kluber or Bauer once the free agent pitchers are all gone. Hell, teams are probably trying to overpay as we speak. The Indians will absolutely cash in if they do indeed decide to move either or both of their stars.
The free agent pitchers are prizes of their own, but the real winners might get to by dealing with Cleveland.