The Cleveland Indians have traded Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds in a three team trade also including the San Diego Padres. The return for the Indians includes Reds’ outfielder Yasiel Puig, Padres’ outfielder Franmil Reyes, and Padres pitching prospect Logan Allen.
There have been rumors during the offseason, and all throughout the season, that Cleveland would eventually deal Bauer. However, it has just been of recent that the Reds have entered the equation. The move is a bit questionable on Cincinnati’s end, considering their chance of a playoff spot at this point is essentially zero. While it is possible that the Reds flip Bauer for a better return, the 4 p.m. trade deadline is approaching quickly.
In the case of the Indians, they have received two quality hitters and an MLB top 100 prospect. Yasiel Puig, the headliner of Cleveland’s return in many eyes, has been having a bit of a down year with a wRC+ of 98. However, he’s shown some power this season with 22 home runs, although he has been playing in one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball. Franmil Reyes, at only 24 years old, has put up a wRC+ of 116 in 349 plate appearances in 2019. He’s also hit 27 home runs, which would easily rank first on the team today (Puig’s 22 would be tied with Carlos Santana for the team lead). If that wasn’t enough, San Diego threw in pitching prospect Logan Allen. The aforementioned top 100 prospect has struggled quite a bit in 2019 after posting a 1.63 ERA in 2018 at the AAA level. In 2019, he’s had a 5.15 ERA in AAA with a 4.87 FIP. In 25.1 major league innings, he’s posted a 5.95 FIP. Regardless of his recent struggles, the Indians got a highly ranked prospect with major league experience. On top of that, Cleveland also received pitching prospect Scott Moss from the Reds, and third base prospect Victor Nova from the Padres, both of which have performed relatively well (Moss in AA, Nova in Rookie).
So, how does this trade effect the Indians in 2019? To start, the tribe will obviously be without Bauer, who’s been one of their best starters in 2019. However, Cleveland still has many pieces to work with to fill his rotation spot. Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Adam Plutko already hold rotation spots and have certainly been productive this season. Cleveland has several options in Bauer’s absence, including Corey Kluber coming off the I.L. Kluber has been the club’s ace for several years now, winning Cy Young awards in 2014 and 2017, and will certainly claim a rotation spot upon his return. Carlos Carrasco also remains out with his recently diagnosed Leukemia, although his will likely not return in 2019. If Cleveland wants to make another shuffle, Aaron Civale also remains in AAA, who has made a start in the bigs this season and went six scoreless innings. Whichever way they choose to go, the loss of Bauer might not effect the rotation as much as one would think.
In regards to the return for Cleveland, Reyes and Puig fit in to the lineup very nicely. The Indians’ outfield and overall offense has struggled mightily in 2019, making this a much needed move. Puig likely becomes the everyday right fielder in Cleveland, as both corner outfield positions have rotated since Oscar Mercado took over in center field. Reyes will probably fill the designated hitter spot, given that he has compiled -10 defensive runs saved in the outfield in 2019 for San Diego. Both players will slide into the heart of the Indians’ everyday lineup, and give power to a lineup that has been seriously lacking. The outfield then gets some stability with Mercado and Puig playing every day. That last outfield spot will likely continue to rotate, with a mix of Tyler Naquin, Jordan Luplow, Greg Allen, and Jake Bauers. Reyes puts a great bat in the DH spot which has often been occupied by Bauers this season (who by no measure has been a great bat). The Cleveland offense goes from being a gaping hole in the team from something that may be able to push them to a fourth straight division title.
Any way you slice it, most agree that this deal is an absolute win for the Indians. The front office has finally taken the starting pitching, which they have an abundance of, and traded for offensive help, which they direly need. Another part to this is that the Indians organization is sending a clear message. After spending an entire offseason seeming content with mediocrity, the front office has chosen a direction. This team is trying to win, and they’ve let us know in a big way.
Excellent write-up, Peter. I was worried about the return Bauer might fetch after I saw the Stroman deal, and feared the worst when the early reports were “Puig for Bauer.” But like early reporting from a hurricane landfall, you have to wait to discover the full story. And in this case, the Tribe front office showed its resourcefulness once again, fortifying a lineup in desperate need of a jolt. I think we’ll be seeing Greg Allen and Jake Bauers back in Columbus soon. I still like those two youngsters, but we’re not rebuilding, we’re trying to contend, and their hit tools need further development before they can contribute consistently at the big league level.
I agree. With Salazar on his way back up to the majors along with Civale possibly coming back up, there might simply not be room to keep them on the 25-man with their current performance. It’ll be interesting to see how they manage that lineup spot.