CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians probably can’t catch the Chicago White Sox, so they’re helping their AL Central rival.
Cleveland traded second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the first-place White Sox on Thursday in return for minor league pitcher Konnor Pilkington.
The White Sox, who lead the Indians by 8 1/2 games and open a series with them on Friday, have been in the market for a second baseman since starter Nick Madrigal suffered a season-ending hamstring tear on June 10.
In Hernandez, Chicago is getting a Gold Glove defender who can bat leadoff and drive in runs. The 31-year-old Hernandez is hitting .231 in his second season with the Indians with eight home runs and 47 RBIs in 96 games.
Hernandez has always been viewed as the player most likely to be dealt before Friday’s deadline because of the Indians’ depth with middle infielders.
Andrés Giménez, who was acquired from the Mets in the offseason as part of the Francisco Lindor deal, is ready at Triple-A and Owen Miller, Tyler Freeman and Gabriel Arias are among the top infield prospects in Cleveland’s organization.
The decision to deal Hernandez to the team they’re chasing in the division signals a concession by the Indians, who have managed to stay around .500 despite a slew of injuries.
Cleveland is currently without reigning Cy Young winner Shane Bieber because of a shoulder issue and starter Aaron Civale, who was leading the league in wins earlier this season before hurting his finger in a start against the Cubs.
The 23-year-old Pilkington has pitched at Double-A Birmingham, where he went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 starts. He did not pitch in 2020 due to the minor league season being canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pilkington was drafted in the third round by the White Sox in 2018.