The Indians are finally ready to deal Trevor Bauer. That puts Cleveland in position to secure a massive haul for the ace starter’s services.
If the season ended today, the Indians would qualify for the postseason via the Wild Card. That doesn’t mean they are ready to contend for a World Series title in 2019. As such, making Trevor Bauer available via trade is the right move for the organization.
According to Joel Sherman, it’s now “much more likely than not” that the Indians will trade Bauer ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. It’s unclear what teams are currently in the mix for the talented right-hander, but Indians officials should expect to receive a lot of phone calls from potential World Series contenders in the very near future.
Bauer immediately becomes the most attractive starting pitcher on the market. He isn’t lighting up the baseball world like he did back in 2018, but his 3.79 ERA in 156.2 innings pitched this season is very solid production. His ability to pitch effectively deep into games could provide a number of contenders with a big boost heading into October.
The key for the Indians will be to hold firm to their asking price for Bauer. In essence, they need to avoid doing what the Blue Jays did with Marcus Stroman on Sunday. At the very minimum, Cleveland should be in a position to acquire one young Major League starter and a premium prospect in any deal that requires Bauer to leave Northeast Ohio. In sharp contrast, the Blue Jays were only able to net two slightly above-average prospects when they shipped Stroman to the Mets.
Both the Yankees and Astros will likely emerge as serious suitors for Bauer. New York desperately needs to fortify their mediocre rotation. The Astros are looking for one more ace to make them an even more dangerous team in the postseason. That doesn’t mean they are the only two franchises who will be involved. Expect a host of other clubs to make inquiries.
Bauer’s emergence onto the market may also slow the pace of other deals ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. Second-tier pitching options like Robbie Ray and Mike Leake will almost certainly be forced to wait until Bauer moves to receive clarity about their own situations. The timing might be tricky given the lack of time left before the market door slams shut, but Bauer is going to become the top option for a number of clubs.
As long as the Indians are able to receive fair value for Bauer, they’re making the right decision. Now it’s up to the Cleveland front office to see just how much of a bidding war they can stir up for the talented starter.