The Indians Nailed The Trevor Bauer Trade

I’ll likely have a trade deadline roundup column tomorrow morning or maybe even later tonight depending on the volume of deals.  Anyways, here’s a lot of words, way too many to pack inside a bigger column, about the Trevor Bauer deal last night.

Reds get: Trevor Bauer

Indians get: Yasiel Puig, Logan Allen, Franmil Reyes, Victor Nova, Scott Moss

Padres get: Taylor Trammell

The Indians season was experiencing the worst case scenario I thought it could until after the All-Star break, where Cleveland has won 11 of their last 16 games and is now just two games back of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central race and has the first AL Wild Card spot.

The reason I thought the Indians could swoon was due to their poor outfield play and competition from within the division, specifically from the Twins.  That’s certainly occurred.

When rumors of a possible Trevor Bauer trade started circulating, the No. 1 thing the Indians needed back was outfielders.  They got that and more.

This move comes off as one that makes the Indians look like sellers.  They’re trading one of baseball’s best pitchers over the past few seasons (As much as I can’t stand Bauer due to baseball (Look at the playoff numbers) and non-baseball reasons, that statement is true.), who’s been a key to the No. 1 thing that’s made them the contender they’ve been over the three seasons, in a year where they’re not nearly as strong of a team.  That’s selling, right?

Kind of. The Indians got pieces back that are either major league players or major league ready players.  They got guys back that can help now.  Franmil Reyes will slot into an outfield spot immediately and provide power that Cleveland is lacking back there along with Yasiel Puig (Who went out from Cincinnati in the most baller way possible), whose WAR total might be the lowest it’s been since 2016 but is still producing, batting .255/.305/.480 with 22 home runs.

Oscar Mercado and Jordan Luplow have been fine.  Mercado is someone I like (He’s a rookie at 24!) and Luplow has been quite good (118 OPS+). But both are young, and may not be reliable playoff players.  Still, Mercado and Luplow is pretty good depth for the playoffs, especially for a team that had nothing beforehand.

Trading Bauer, one of the three good and healthy starters Cleveland has in its rotation during the middle of a playoff race is a little backwards.  But say Corey Kluber comes back and is Corey Kluber, and Danny Salazar and/or Carlos Carrasco return to themselves when they come back. The Indians only need two of those guys to be good with Shane Beiber, Mike Clevinger and Zach Pleasac all pitching well.  That rotation, combined with a completely revamped and now-talented outfielder, makes the Indians a threat again.

Plus, the Indians got the very-talented Logan Allen, and two other prospects (Scott Moss, who is a little older but has been good in the minors, and Victor Nova).  Allen would be more highly praised if he wasn’t in the insanely talented San Diego farm system (For reference, he’d be the D-backs best pitching prospect).

Cleveland not only somehow shipped out their best pitcher in a somewhat confusing move and made it not look stupid, but got back close to 100 cents on the dollar and spread those 100 cents around about as well as they could have.

The Reds perspective of this trade is perhaps the most confusing end of it.

They should be better.  Their offseason consisted of quite the buying spree, similar to that of the Mets, and it’s kind of paid off.  Puig had been good.  Sonny Gray hasn’t let Great American Ballpark get to him like Yankee Stadium did.  Luis Castillo, a longtime favorite of mine, is blossoming.  Tanner Roark has pitched well.

And yet somehow, they’re six games below .500 and are seven games out of a wild card spot.

The way we treated the Mets and Reds offseason was to give them a path both ways.  If the moves worked, great.  If they didn’t, you could sell off some of the pieces for good assets back and rebuild.  Neither team did that.

Instead, they doubled-down on the troubling moves from the offseason.

It’s probably a hard pill for the Reds to swallow that they’re not good.  Their pythagorean record is the opposite of their current 49-55 record.  But that doesn’t mean you try and fix it by putting yourself more in the hole.

The value given up isn’t as severe, but this move by Cincinnati reminds me greatly of Pittsburgh trading for Chris Archer at last year’s deadline.  A team that is well-out of it believing their still in it trading for a top-end starter and giving up a lot to do so in a move that makes zero sense.

The Reds have to bank on getting hot this season or being able to reload and build a serious contender over the offseason that allows them to be a threat next year, because there’s no way they’re paying Bauer contract he’s going to demand in the 2020-21 offseason.  Those are the only two ways they make this trade even close to worth it.

At the same time, it’s important to consider that they didn’t give up what the Indians got.  Cincy essentially traded Taylor Trammell, Scott Moss and Puig for Bauer.  While still not making much sense, the value swap is a bit better there.  At the same time, Trammell is likely to be a stud, Puig is an above-average starter, and Moss could be a decent pitcher soon.  That’s what you have to pay for one of the league’s best pitchers.  The Reds paid it in full.  It’d be fine if it made sense for them to do so.

San Diego got bailed out a bit by the Reds making such confusing moves, because I didn’t really understand their positioning here.

As I wrote above, I figure Trammell to be stud eventually.  But Franmil Reyes, despite being a lower-average guy, is a power hitter with 27 home runs already this season and, despite being a negative defensively, gave the Padres a pretty good outfield combined with Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.

And yes, while Logan Allen was one of the Padres lower-rated prospects, and was stuck in the middle of a loaded crop of upcoming pitchers in the San Deigo system, he could have been worth keeping around to possibly flip for a veteran, experienced starter down the line.  Plus, not all of the pitchers the Padres have will work out.  Allen, with a lower projected celling, also makes him more a safer bet, which could be good insurance incase one of their up and coming prospects doesn’t develop as well as they thought he would.

Then again, Trammell-Margot-Renfroe is better than Reyes in Trammell’s spot.  I guess you give up Allen to make that happen.

There’s been rumors about Trammell staying put, along with rumors that Bauer may be getting flipped in Cincinnati.  Flipping Bauer would be smart, but I’d be surprised if that’s the Reds’ intention.  The Padres have been connected to the Noah Syndergaard talks, but reports last night indicate that him being moved is unlikely.  Some saw Trammell as extra ammo for the Padres to make a potential trade for Thor.

If Syndergaard were to go to the Padres, it’d be San Diego making some maybe-too-early assumptions about some of their guys.  I’d wait, see what you have, and let next year’s deadline or next winner be the time to cash some of the chips in.  At the same time, while it may not pay off this year as San Diego is a little far out in the playoff race, a top three of Syndergaard, Chris Paddack and Mackenzie Gore is among baseball’s best already.