Living life as a Cleveland Guardians fan right now must be a constant fight to suspend disbelief about the good fortunes of the franchise. They're 18 games over .500. They're in first place in one of the toughest divisions in Major League Baseball. And oh, by the way, they have the number one overall pick in the upcoming MLB Draft thanks to the relatively new lottery system, so they'll most likely be adding Georgia slugger Charlie Condon to their roster to debut in the not-too-distant future.

Yeah, things are going pretty well for Clevelanders nowadays. But the team's somewhat surprising dominance should not trick the front office into thinking this roster is ready to run through the American League playoffs. The Guardians are at best the third-best betting favorites to take home the pennant depending on the sportsbook, and as great as they have played, the rate at which they've been getting clutch hits is nearly impossible to sustain.

So with that in mind, let's concoct a perfect storm of trades that could take Cleveland from plucky underdogs to legitimate power players, prepared to compete with the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and any other AL powers. Chris Antonetti already has one Executive of the Year award, but here is how he can win another:

Acquire Marlins SP Jesús Luzardo

When you're a low-budget MLB team like the Guardians, sometimes you don't go all-in at the deadline. Last season was a perfect example: even though the Guards were within striking distance of the division, they sold high on starting pitcher Aaron Civale at the deadline. But you also have to know when it's time to go all-in and make a move like this one.

The Miami Marlins' Jesús Luzardo got off to a dreadful start to this season but has completely rebounded since returning from the injured list earlier this month. In his four post-injury starts, he's pitched to a 1.75 ERA/2.20 FIP in 25.2 innings. At 26 years old and coming off a 208-strikeout season in 2023, Luzardo is the type of young, foundational arm Cleveland needs to shore up its rotation for the rest of the season.

Obviously, the cost will be high to acquire Luzardo, but it's also in Miami's best interest to trade him now. They are about to enter a messy, long-term rebuild and with two years of control remaining after this season, he'll provide more future value by netting the Fish some high-profile prospects than toiling away on a bad team before he bounces in free agency. In a blockbuster deal, Cleveland sends its No. 3 and 4 prospects, OF Jason Chourio and 1B Ralphy Velazquez, to South Beach.

Acquire Red Sox OF Tyler O'Neill

Boston Red Sox designated hitter Tyler O'Neill (17) hits a three run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Fenway Park.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland's most obvious need since the beginning of the off-season has been a right fielder. They've been through cycles of Ramon Laureano and Will Brennan and are now experimenting with rookie Johnathan Rodriguez. David Fry has been incredible as a fill-in bat this season, but he doesn't have the defensive makeup to man right field at a big-league level. Enter the Boston Red Sox' Tyler O'Neill.

O'Neill just went on the 10-day IL with a right knee issue, but reports out of Boston seem to indicate it's mostly a precaution and that he should be ready to return to the lineup relatively quickly. And since O'Neill's injury relieved the logjam in the Sox' outfield, manager Alex Cora has been able to play rookie defensive whiz Ceddanne Rafaela in center field every day, producing a string of highlight-reel catches.

Therefore, regardless of whether the Red Sox are still in contention at the trade deadline, it's in their best interest to get something of value for impending free agent O'Neill, since he's hit well enough to command a solid prospect package. And the Guardians will happily take a two-time Gold Glover with an .843 season OPS over Brennan as their everyday right fielder. Cleveland sends its No. 8 and 10 prospects, LHPs Alex Clemmey and Joey Cantillo, to Boston.

Acquire Cardinals SP Kyle Gibson

Yes, we're dipping back into the starting pitcher pool once again. If there's going to be one downfall to the Guardians this season, it's clearly going to be the rotation. The bullpen is the best in the game, so the Guards don't always need their starters to go deep, but there's an obvious lack of experience, except for Carlos Carrasco, who has been ineffective and is now injured. Ever since Shane Bieber went down for the season, the Guardians have been treading on thin ice.

So in order to make sure Cleveland's rotation is fully stocked for the playoff push, they can add a proven veteran in Kyle Gibson who is coming off an outing where he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. His St. Louis Cardinals have snuck their way back into the National League Wild Card hunt, which makes this more complicated, but they're ripe for the picking if they have another losing streak.

Trading away rentals could end up having a better long-term effect for the Cards than clinging to .500 for most of the second half. Meanwhile, the Guardians know they're going for broke this season and can't have too much starting pitching, especially someone like Gibson who they know will give them length in the regular season even if he's not a big part of the playoff rotation. Cleveland sends its No. 9 and 15 prospects, Angel Martínez and Petey Halpin, to St. Louis.