CLEVELAND -- As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nears, the Indians could conceivably take two different approaches in bolstering their roster for the second half.
Should the team begin to fall out of playoff contention, general manager Chris Antonetti could take a selling approach, notably with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera set to become a free agent after this season. Conversely, if the Tribe can get on another hot streak like last season, he may look to upgrade on the team's current talent.
With the club's rotation ERA at 4.55 entering Sunday -- the third-worst mark in the American League -- could the Indians be in the market for a starting pitcher?
"Potentially," Antonetti said. "The one thing we continue to believe is we have quality Major League starting pitchers. And any time you acquire a guy, you have to think about who it displaces from the team and the rotation, and you have to have a high degree of confidence it's an improvement."
The organization has already begun making minor moves, acquiring outfielder Chris Dickerson from the Pirates on Monday and trading for left-handed reliever Nick Maronde on Friday -- both in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.
Maronde, a former third-round Draft pick who was once a top prospect in the Angels' organization, has fallen on hard times lately, allowing nine runs in 6 1/3 innings with the big league club while posting a 10.50 ERA across 18 appearances in the Minors this season. But the Indians saw a reclamation project that was worth the investment.
"Nick Maronde's a big, physical left-handed pitcher that we've liked for quite a while," Antonetti said. "Recently, he's had some trouble throwing strikes, but we think there's significant upside there and a guy worth taking a chance on. We're in the process of working with him to put a plan in place and get him back to the guy he was a couple years ago."
Regardless of the direction Antonetti and his front office compatriots choose to go, he insists the approach will be to seek out a clear upgrade. And with no "glaring holes at particular positions," perhaps the Indians will go all in on an elite trade candidate should the club vault itself back into the division race before the Deadline.
"With us, we're in a different position. We have guys already in those roles that are capable of contributing," Antonetti said. "For us to improve, we need to improve upon a higher standard. In some cases, we're counting on guys we've already made commitments to rebounding."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.