The Cleveland Indians could trade Trevor Bauer independent of their status as a contender, and these five teams should be ready to make a deal for him.
Since June 2, the Cleveland Indians have trimmed 7.5 games off their deficit in the AL Central and trail the Minnesota Twins by just four games entering Thursday. A soft schedule has helped, along with the Twins dealing with a rash of injuries and some expected correction.
But as the Indians shape their trade deadline plan, and potentially look to be buyers, they have Trevor Bauer. He is making $13 million, with a raise toward $20 million coming for 2020 in his final year of arbitration, and he has openly said he is willing to go year-to-year on one-year deals for the rest of his career.
Entering his scheduled start against the Detroit Tigers Thursday night, Bauer leads both leagues in innings with 138. He has a 3.65 ERA over his 21 starts, with a 10.4 K/9 and a 3.5 BB/9. Home runs have been a bit of an issue, with 20 allowed this season, but take away Twins’ outfielder Max Kepler’s five and that total normalizes quickly. Over his last six starts (38.2 innings), Bauer has a 51:9 K/BB ratio.
In this era of openers, shorter starts, pitch counts and bullpening, Bauer stands as an innings eating workhorse. He has gone over 100 pitches in all but three of his starts this season, and he threw 99 pitches in one of the remaining three. Naturally then, he has gone at least six innings in 17 of his starts.
Dating back to the offseason, Bauer has been the subject of trade rumors as the Indians trimmed payroll and owner Paul Dolan hinted shortstop Francisco Lindor’s time with the team is destined to be short.
The Indians could certainly get a major league-ready piece or two for Bauer, so trading him would not serve a white flag concession on the season. In any case, these five teams should be bringing an offer to the table if they haven’t already.
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees surfaced a rumored suitor for Bauer earlier this month, to the point of sending (for whatever it’s worth) scouting department piece Tim Naehring to watch his start on July 7.
After Andy Martino of SNY.tv reported the Yankees don’t want to trade Triple-A exiled outfielder Clint Frazier for a rental pitcher, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Yankees don’t want to trade Frazier for a pitcher who is only under team control through 2020 either. Bauer obviously fits into the latter category, so rumors specifically attaching the Yankees to him have cooled.
It’s clear the Yankees are deep in the market for a starting pitcher, with Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner and Robbie Ray among rumored targets. A deal for Bauer seems less likely at this point, but a lot can change over the next 13 days.