Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Bauer trade

The Twins did not make a trade Tuesday, the last full day before the trading deadline. Cleveland, now three games back of Minnesota, reportedly did -- a complex three-way deal that brought the Tribe bulk players and cost them Trevor Bauer, their most reliable starting pitcher. (Announcement expected today.)

Puig and Reyes are right-hand hitting outfielders, although calling Reyes an outfielder is apparently a bit generous; the expectation is that Reyes will be mostly a designated hitter for Cleveland. Allen  is a left-handed pitcher who has struggled in his minimal major league time to date but is seen as a potential piece of a starting rotation; it's quite possible he'll be asked to fill the vacated rotation slot. Nova and Moss are minor leaguers who are unlikely to matter this season for Cleveland, alhtough Moss is in Double A.

It's quite obvious what Cleveland did: They traded from their strength -- starting pitching -- to shore up an obvious weakness -- their outfield hasn't hit. Puig and Reyes have combined for 49 homers this season.

Puig is the bigger name, but Reyes is the bigger bat. Puig's OPS+ with Cincinnati this year is 98, meaning that he's been slightly below league average at the dish. Reyes's OPS+ is 121. A good bit of the difference is that Cincinnati is a far better place to hit than is San Diego. But Puig is a good defensive outfielder.

Cleveland deepened its lineup with this trade. The Indians also weakened their rotation. Unless and until Corey Kubler or Carlos Carrasco return to the rotation and to form, Cleveland now has Mike Clevenger and a collection of young (but talented) staters who have never made it through a full season.

Conclusion: Cleveland got more for Bauer than the Blue Jays did for Marcus Stroman. But because they traded from their major league core to get Reyes and Puig, I'm not sure they actually got better for 2019.

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