CLEVELAND, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians got their haul for Trevor Bauer. It was something they were patiently waiting on for months.
They listened to offers from other organizations last offseason, including the Reds, but the deal wasn’t quite right.
They rolled with Bauer into the regular season and he had his stellar moments, but things seemed a bit off. He struggled at times and looked dominant in others. The trade rumors involving Bauer continued to surface, but the team began to win, which made a deal even more improbable.
That’s what makes Tuesday night’s three-team trade so ridiculous. The Indians got a haul for the pitcher who threw a ball 400 feet in frustration just two days prior. All of the talk about his trade value dropping was nonsense.
Indians President Chris Antonetti and General Manager Mike Chernoff pulled off a heist. They found the perfect mix of a team desperate to contend next season in the Reds and the Padres, whose moves continue to scream ‘rebuild,’ despite some big free agent signings over the past two years.
The Indians took advantage of the situation. Bauer brought back multiple win-now players, mixed with prospects, which made it the perfect deal for Cleveland. They also found two trade partners that weren't in their league – the Yankees and Astros both wanted Bauer and neither organization ended up with him.
Yasiel Puig probably won’t be in an Indians uniform next year and that’s fine. The 28-year-old needs to prove he’s worth a long-term deal, which means he’s going to bust his tail over the next few months for the Indians, the same way he did in Cincinnati this season. Puig was a great teammate and the two brawls with the Pirates this year show that. He was invested in the Reds. He quickly became a fan favorite.
There are questions about his effort, but no one doubts his skill. Puig has a .252 batting average on the season with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. His on-base percentage isn’t great (.302), but he’s got plenty of pop in his bat and will help the middle of the Indians’ lineup. Puig also has a cannon arm in right field and can be a great defender when he’s giving 100 percent effort. It’ll be up to Terry Francona to get the most out of him this season.
Franmil Reyes was the center piece of this deal for the Indians. He’s a 24-year-old outfielder with plenty of power. Reyes has a .255 batting average with 27 home runs and 46 RBI. He gives the Indians an everyday designated hitter that can also play right field when necessary. He’ll probably DH for the Tribe for most of this season, with better options defensively including Puig, Tyler Naquin, Greg Allen and Jordan Luplow.
The best part adding Reyes is his contract. He isn’t scheduled to reach arbitration until after 2021 and won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season.
The Indians also received Logan Allen and Victor Nova from San Diego and Scott Moss from the Reds.
Allen, 22, is a big part of this trade. He's currently the seventh-best prospect in the Padres organization according to MLB.com. His fastball stays in the low to mid-90s. Scouts say he has a plus changeup and continues to develop his slider.
Allen started four games for the Padres this season. He tossed seven scoreless innings against Milwaukee in June. San Diego moved him from the rotation to the bullpen and back, before optioning him to Triple-A last weekend. He ends his Padres tenure with a 6.75 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 25⅓ innings.
He could help the Indians’ bullpen this season. If he doesn’t contribute to the club in 2019, he’s certainly capable of helping in the future. The Indians have a pretty good track record of getting the most out of young arms.
Victor Nova is a 19-year-old third baseman. He has a .330 batting average in the Arizona League, with one home run and 17 RBI in 26 games.
Moss was in Double-A Chattanooga as a member of the Reds organization. The 24-year-old posted a 6-5 record in 20 starts, with a 3.44 ERA. He’s thrown two complete games this season and has 123 strikeouts in 102 innings.
The Indians got a nice mix of players who can help them now and pieces that can contribute in the future. It was their goal from day one and they found a way to get it done.
The Indians lost to the Astros on Tuesday night 2-0. Shane Bieber pitched his tail off against a good lineup, but the team finished with just two hits and only had one runner in scoring position. The Indians needed to get better offensively and that’s exactly what they did.
Here’s what their lineup could look like moving forward, assuming they don’t make any other moves involving position players:
1. Francisco Lindor – SS
2. Oscar Mercado – CF
3. Carlos Santana – 1B
4. Franmil Reyes – DH
5. José Ramírez – 3B
6. Yasiel Puig – RF
7. Jason Kipnis – 2B
8. Roberto Perez – C
9. Greg Allen/Jordan Luplow/Tyler Naquin – LF
This trade does mean Allen, Luplow and Naquin are all battling for one spot. It also puts Jake Bauers' future as an outfielder with this team in question. The Indians are going to have to make some tough roster decisions. All four players have minor league options, which means they could be sent to Triple-A Columbus until September. Naquin, Luplow and Allen are all better defensive outfielders than Bauers, which will play a factor into any roster decision. Bauers' natural position is first base and since he's Santana's backup, it could mean he sticks around in the big leagues and one of the other outfielders is sent to Triple-A.
This deal also sheds Bauer’s salary for 2020, which was expected to go up in his third year of arbitration. Lindor and Clevinger are going to get raises due to arbitration, so freeing up extra salary could give the Indians flexibility to add to their roster.
Jason Kipnis is a free agent to be, which could put them in the market for a second baseman. They could also look to add an outfielder in free agency.
The Indians were going to trade Bauer. If it didn’t happen before the deadline, then it would’ve happened this winter. It was the perfect storm for the front office. They don't have to deal with Bauer’s antics anymore. They added to the roster this season to help the team win in the short-term, while also putting the organization in position to succeed long-term. It may be the hardest thing for a front office to do in sports and yet they've done it.
The health of Corey Kluber played a role, as he’s scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday. After that, the two-time Cy Young Award winner will pitch in real games in his quest to return from a broken forearm.
The Indians weren’t going to trade Bauer midseason unless it was a deal too good to be true. They found the perfect deal, at the perfect time and it puts them in position to succeed in 2019 and beyond.