In hindsight, the Cleveland Indians made a mistake when they signed Jason Kipnis to a 6-year backloaded contract in 2014. At the time backloaded contracts were all the rage, but we now know that these deals very rarely stand the test of time, and in the new age of MLB I don’t know that we’ll see as many of those agreements going forward.
Kipnis is making 14.5 million this season with a 2.5 million buyout in 2020, but his .214 batting average is not providing the tribe with value on their dollar. Yet seemingly against the odds, the Cleveland Indians are playing well in 2019 in spite of Kipnis’ poor performance. They are currently in second place in the NL central, though they are back a full 10 games from the Minnesota Twins. Cleveland is sitting in a wildcard spot at the moment, so if they can somehow stay the course, it’s possible that they could look to make some low-cost acquisitions.
It’s possible that the Cleveland connection could strike again one more time if they were looking to unload Jason Kipnis to the Jays. First, Kipnis’ contract would only affect Toronto this season, which they won’t be competing in any way. Second, if the Jays were to try to land more prospects in the deal, they could also theoretically send back one of either Eric Sogard or Freddy Galvis, who if both can keep their play up, could offer Cleveland a better statistical player for less money than Kipnis.
There’s no doubt that Cleveland has been looking to save money, as even their elite pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber have been in trade rumours over the last 12 months. Kipnis wouldn’t provide huge savings, but if the Blue Jays were willing to eat some of his contract in order to acquire better prospect capital, there could be a fit here.