CLEVELAND: As the all-important nonwaiver trade deadline draws nearer each day, the Indians are one of the teams with the best cases to be active as buyers, particularly looking at their volatile bullpen.

Contenders every year look to poach the best available relievers from the have-nots around the July 31 deadline. Even last season, when the Indians boasted one of the best bullpens in the game, they added Joe Smith to try to stockpile as much ammo as possible for the postseason run. The 2018 Indians, of course, have a much bigger need to coincide with a present sense of urgency in the middle of their competitive window.

The bullpen has been the Indians’ biggest Achilles’ heel this season. It has been an uphill climb for the Indians to fill the hole left by Bryan Shaw. Andrew Miller has been and still is on the disabled list. Zach McAllister and Dan Otero have been improved as of late but inconsistent. The front end of the bullpen has been a revolving door of injuries and trips to the disabled list.

What was the backbone of the 2016 postseason run now stands as the main question mark.

But the Indians’ viewpoint on all this isn’t as straightforward as simply adding talent for this October. There are additional variables to consider, further complicating any deal in which they might pull the trigger.

They aren’t a team that can, every year, jettison assets for rental players and then make up for the organizational losses the next winter by throwing money around. They also don’t want to overlook opportunities and quickly sell out for only 2018 when they stand a good chance of remaining World Series contenders through at least the 2020 season with so many key assets — Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Edwin Encarnacion and on and on — being under control through that year or beyond.

It doesn’t mean the Indians won’t end up throwing all their chips into the middle of the table for this October, should that be the path available to them. But the Indians adding a key piece — to the bullpen or elsewhere — that will remain in place throughout this window is priority No. 1, similar to when they added Andrew Miller and Brandon Guyer at the 2016 trade deadline.

“I think, again, as we always approach opportunities to acquire players, we try to take a multiyear approach,” president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said last week. “It was evident in our trades in 2016. We targeted players that could have an impact beyond just that season. Now, sometimes those players aren’t available and you can’t align on value, and you end up trading for guys like we did last year with Joe Smith or getting Jay Bruce late. That’s just the opportunity that was available to us. We’ll explore both.”

Zeroing in on a multiyear acquisition would be a goal around the roster. It might be most crucial with the bullpen. Already appearing thin without Shaw, both Miller and Cody Allen are impending free agents after this season. And both will likely command gaudy salaries, even topping where they are now ($9 million for Miller, $10.575 for Allen). If one leaves — or, in the Indians’ doomsday scenario, both find new homes for 2019 — the Indians will be left exposed and needing someone to shoulder a much heavier workload. And it’s unlikely their statuses will change before this winter.

“Those are conversations we typically have during offseason and in spring training, not something we usually engage in during the season,” Antonetti said. “Not to say it’s a hard and fast rule, but that’s typically the way we’ve operated. We did talk with each of those guys over the course of the winter and in spring training and had some discussions with them about where we were, where we were positioned and what the future could be moving forward but have not had those conversations during the season.”

Of course, acquiring an asset under club control for multiple seasons should also cost the Indians more than a three-month rental. If they can stomach the prospect cost, the Indians have plenty of options through which to bolster the bullpen for several seasons.

Several potential targets on teams who could be looking to sell at the deadline are all under club control through at least 2020. Cincinnati Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias (2.37 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 29.8 K%), San Diego Padres lefty Brad Hand (2.43 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 36 K%), Texas Rangers righty Keone Kela (3.76 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 29.3 K%), Miami Marlins right-hander Kyle Barraclough (1.11 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 27.4 K%) and Baltimore Orioles righty Mychal Givens (4.19 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 27.4 K%) are all under club control through the 2021 season.

The Reds also boast left-hander Amir Garrett (2.50 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 29.2 K% in his first season in the bullpen), who could remain under club control through 2023, and right-hander Jared Hughes (1.36 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 19.6 K%), signed through 2019 with a club option for 2020. Kirby Yates, who was with the Indians for less than two months before the 2016 season, could remain under club control through 2020 and has been terrific in 2018, posting a 0.93 ERA, 2.44 FIP and 29.6 K%.

The Orioles’ Darren O’Day (2.95 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 34.7 K%) could also fit that mold, as he’s set to earn $9 million next season before hitting free agency (his deal includes $1 million in deferred payments each year from 2020-2023).

Those names represent many of the more valuable and available relievers on the trade market. The Indians’ top three prospects — catcher Francisco Mejia, right-handed pitcher Triston McKenzie and first baseman Bobby Bradley — will be highly sought-after assets. Shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang has been discussed in deals in the past. The ammo is there to find an aggressive deal, and the need to add an upgraded option to Miller and Allen has been obvious.

Perhaps their endeavors to acquire a multiyear piece will fall short. They might end up liking the asking price for Orioles superstar Manny Machado, for instance, and make the most aggressive move possible for a three-month rental infielder that shakes up their lineup.

The Indians were also recently connected to Orioles left-hander Zach Britton, a former All-Star, according to a FanRag Sports report. Britton, too, would represent an aggressive move for a player who could then leave Cleveland this winter.

While finding a way to bolster their bullpen — or roster as a whole — for the entirety of their potential is preferred, selling out for 2018 in the event that nothing else is an option wouldn’t be as painful as passing on every available path altogether, potentially leaving a weakness exposed in what could possibly be the Indians’ best — but not only — shot on paper to win their first World Series title since 1948.

All the pieces are on the board. The Indians’ move is next.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RyanLewisABJ