The San Diego Padres are in search of a starting pitcher to be labeled as the team’s ace. The Cleveland Indians have rotation depth, which indicates the two teams could be an excellent matchup in a potential Trevor Bauer deal. Stay tuned.
It is no secret that the San Diego Padres are looking for a top-notch starter to anchor their young pitching staff.
The team has already been linked to Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard from the Mets, as well as Michael Fulmer from the Detroit Tigers. Preller and the Padres were also known to have contacted the Rays before they dealt Chris Archer this past July to the Pirates. The team is in search of that proverbial “ace” to guide a group of youngsters.
Looking around the league, there are teams that match up in a potential trade. One such team is the Cleveland Indians, who were just eliminated from the 2018 playoffs by the defending champion Houston Astros in three games.
The Indians are the kings of a very weak AL Central Division and are presently pitching-rich in the rotation department. With Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Shane Bieber, Adam Plutko, and Mike Clevinger as possibilities in the rotation, the Tribe has the depth to make a deal. They also have Danny Salazar, who arguably has the best stuff of the bunch, but has battled arm troubles throughout his career. They could trade a pitcher if the return helps them advance in the playoffs in a very difficult American League.
A.J. Preller and the Padres are presently sitting with a youthful roster and a flourishing farm system. They have both the young major league talent and the advanced prospects to get a deal done for potentially anyone they set their eyes on. It all depends on how much of their farm system they are willing to part with to get a deal done.
In contemplating a possible trade between these two clubs you have to look at what makes complete sense for each in regard to their present plans. The Padres would love a starter, and the name that stands out is Trevor Bauer. The Indians are in search of offensive firepower and the Padres could meet their needs in that regard fairly easily. Let’s explore a potential deal.
Unlike Kluber, Trevor Bauer has yet to find total success in the major leagues. He is close to reaching his potential, but most would argue we have yet to see his ceiling. He exhibited his potential this past season as he was leading the majors in innings pitched (something he takes pride in) before going down late in the season. He took a line drive off his shin resulting in a broken leg. Bauer battled back and made an appearance late in the year for the Tribe, but lacked the arm strength to completely be a factor in the playoffs after missing nearly two months with the injury.
The price tag for him would not be cheap. Don’t kid yourself. Trevor Bauer is 27, and not due for free agency until after the 2020 season. The 27-year-old, right-handed pitcher went 12-6 this past year with a 2.21 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP in 28 games and 175 innings pitched. He struck out 221 in that time resulting in an 11.3 K/per nine-inning rate. In his last four years in Cleveland, Bauer’s numbers have gotten better as he matures and understands the game. He owns a career 59-47 record with a 3.94 ERA in 160 games and seven major league seasons.
2018 was truly his breakout year as Bauer lowered his walk rate, improved his K rate to an all-time high, and only allowed nine homers in 175 innings pitched. He was named an all-star for the first time, and it is there that I heard him speak about advanced pitching metrics and such. Bauer is a student of the game and takes great pride in preparing himself to get better. He would be a nice addition to the Padres’ young staff in that regard. Bauer is a quirky guy. Some say he should have been a left-hander because of his personality. However, his demeanor would fit well with a laid back Padres staff as they grow to relevance.
The Price Tag
Acquiring Trevor Bauer would not be cheap. The Indians would be very hesitant to deal him as he was the team’s best pitcher for most of the 2018 season. But the Tribe has lofty goals. They want a World Championship. Sometimes you have to make a tough decision if it means creating a better team.
Outfielders Melky Cabrera, Rajai Davis, and Michael Brantley are all free agents this winter. The Indians need outfielders for the 2019 season. The Padres just happen to have an excess in the area, as Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe, and Wil Myers all deserve to play every day at the major league level. You can see the beginning of a possible deal. The Indians will need to fill the void from these players, and trading pitching could be an option. Would the Padres consider dealing Hunter Renfroe or Wil Myers in a swap for Bauer? And how much more would the Padres need to pay to get a deal done?
Hypothetically speaking, Myers or Renfroe for Bauer is a great starting point for a deal. Realistically, the Indians would want, and deserve, more for a pitcher like Trevor Bauer. Renfroe broke out in 2018, but he is still capable of falling back into old habits of being nothing more than an average player. Myers has a hefty contract and seems to lack the intensity to play consistently. He is maddening to watch play the game of baseball. But still very intriguing.
At this point, would the Padres be willing to part with a few minor league pitchers to get a deal done? Would names like Jacob Nix or Brett Kennedy interest the Indians at the major league level or would the Padres have to deal from within their top-30 prospects? With a Rule-5 draft coming, could the Padres dangle names like Michael Gettys, Austin Allen, or Pedro Avila in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone? The Padres have the players to get a deal done. Do they value Bauer as a player worth paying the price for?
These two teams already matched up in a deal this season that benefited both teams. Adam Cimber and Brad Hand helped solidify the bullpen in Cleveland during the summer, while Francisco Mejia gives the Padres a very nice option behind the plate for the future. A.J. Preller and Mike Chernoff have a good relationship and could explore more trade options in the coming months as they try to improve their squads.
If the Padres want to get a deal done, they can be very aggressive. They have the pitching depth to offer to the Indians and there is no doubt that the Tribe could use some potent outfield help now. The Padres G.M. told the media at the Don Welke Classic that the team will do their homework on each and every player they covet. Bauer has some personality question marks, but in the end, he is a competitor, and that should outweigh any red flags there may be.
This is something to keep an eye on moving forward, as it seems the Padres will make a move eventually. There are many possible scenarios here and anything can happen, but the Cleveland Indians are certainly an interesting team to watch. Trevor Bauer fits the needs for the Padres. The question is- how much do they covet him, if at all?