By Evan Brunell
Both Jim Bowden of ESPN and Jon Heyman of SI.com report that the Indians are chasing either Ryan Ludwick or Josh Willingham to add to the club's offense.
While two separate reports give some credence to the rumor, don't forget that both people could be drawing from the same source. Regardless, it's no surprise to see Cleveland nosing about for a right-handed outfield bat, given the struggles of Grady Sizemore to stay on the field and Shin-Soo Choo's broken thumb keeping him out until late August. Add in DH Travis Hafner's brittle body, and despite ranking 10th in baseball in runs scored, you can see how offense is a question mark for the Indians.
Ludwick has seen his offense depressed since being traded to the Padres midway through the 2010 season but has drawn trade interest from quite a few teams and could be a nice complementary piece. Willingham has had his own offensive dropoff since joining Oakland before the season but has been hot in July after an injury and slump dragged down his numbers in June. He's a safer bet than Ludwick to produce, but he also costs more and would come with a higher price tag. Carlos Beltran has also come up as a possible target, although it's unlikely Beltran would waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland -- plus the Indians wouldn't want to surrender a top prospect.
More important to Cleveland is shoring up the pitching as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports. One name to note here is Aaron Harang, as Heyman reported Cleveland's interest on Tuesday. The right-hander is having a bounceback season with the Padres, but pitching in Petco Park is a big reason why. His 3.19 ERA will command a higher price than he's truly worth, while another of Cleveland's targets, Hiroki Kuroda, may not pan out because he has a no-trade clause and wants to stay on the West Coast. As a result, the Dodgers' trade market for Kuroda is quite thin.
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