The Tampa Bay Rays on Monday acquired right-hander Aaron Civale from the Guardians in a rare deadline trade between two teams with playoff potential, enriching an injury-riddled starting rotation, while Cleveland landed hard-hitting first-base prospect Kyle Manzardo.
Civale, 28, has excelled since returning from a strained oblique in early June, allowing two or fewer runs in 10 of his 11 starts. On the season, he is 5-2 with a 2.34 ERA over 77 innings, striking out 58, walking 22 and allowing just five home runs.
Because Civale remains under team control through the end of the 2025 season, the Rays were willing to give up Manzardo, a 23-year-old who has shot through their system after they selected him in the second round of the 2021 draft. While Manzardo's numbers have flattened this season after a standout 2022 -- he is hitting .238/.342/.442 with 11 home runs at Triple-A -- evaluators expect him to be a solid big league hitter.
In the short term, he's blocked by Josh Naylor, the team's second-best hitter behind Jose Ramirez, and Josh Bell, Cleveland's big free agent signing who spends most of his time DHing. With the deal, Cleveland trained its eye toward the future despite, at 53-53, sitting only a half-game behind the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central.
"Tough trade to make," Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters. "But we did feel it was a unique opportunity to acquire someone like Kyle. We knew it would come at a steep cost."
The Rays, who started 13-0, recently slipped to second place in the AL East behind Baltimore and have long sought pitching help to supplement a rotation that lost standouts Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen to season-ending injuries. The Rays got good news this week when Zach Eflin avoided an injured-list stint after left knee pain, and with ace Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow looking like a frontline starter, Eflin and Civale, Tampa Bay would go into the postseason with arguably the best rotation of any current AL playoff team.
Civale is expected to join the Rays at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and make his Tampa Bay debut Saturday in Detroit. He will replace rookie Taj Bradley (5-7, 5.67 ERA) in the rotation.
Bradley was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Monday, and the Rays recalled right-handed reliever Ryan Thompson.
In Civale, Cleveland moved its most effective starter this season but does not lack pitching. Rookies Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee and Logan Allen all have had fantastic debuts, and while ace Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill are all on the injured list, the Guardians will go into next season with a starting surplus still.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.