The Minnesota Twins will be looking for pitching leading up to next month’s trade deadline, but does Trevor Bauer fit what they are looking for?
If the Minnesota Twins are going to continue to find success over the next couple of weeks, there is little doubt that they will be buyers at next month’s MLB trade deadline. With an offense that can slug it out with the best lineups in baseball, the Twins will be looking to upgrade their starting rotation and bullpen which started strong, but has tailed off in recent weeks.
Per the trade deadline season, there will be many names that will be thrown about as the Twins start making calls, but The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (paywall required) threw out an interesting name as he suggested that Minnesota may be interested in Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer.
"“A rotation led by [Jose] Berrios, [Jake] Odorizzi and Bauer would be formidable in a postseason series,” Rosenthal said. “And if the Indians can acquire the right prospects from a Twins farm system ranked seventh by Baseball America – outbidding, among others, the team with the top-rated system, the Padres – playing in the same division shouldn’t prevent a trade from taking place.”"
On the surface, the idea of the Indians trading one of their top pitchers to the Twins (who happen the team they’re chasing in the American League Central) seems like a far fetched fantasy. However, with Cleveland entering Wednesday night 11 games back of the Twins, it’s possible it might want to start thinking about the future.
For the sake of this article, let’s say that is the case. Why would the Twins want Trevor Bauer? For starters, it’s for the exact reason that Rosenthal mentions in his piece. Minnesota currently has a pair of strong top starters in Berrios and Odorizzi, but would benefit from acquiring a third starter.
Right now, that pitcher would be Kyle Gibson, who hasn’t been brutal, but he doesn’t instill fear in an opposing lineup. Adding Bauer, who was 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA just last year , would give the Twins an intimidating trio against other playoff contenders such as Houston, New York and Tampa Bay.
Bauer is also under team control for one more year as he will be eligible to become a free agent after the 2020 season. Such a factor seems like typical Twins, but if they are going to give up a lot to acquire Bauer, it’s nice to know he wouldn’t be just a three-month rental.
Speaking of the cost to acquire Bauer, the Indians are likely going to demand a lot for a pitcher that performed at an All-Star level just a year ago. Amplify that by this being a trade within the division (even with Rosenthal’s suggestion these are becoming more common) and the Indians are going to want this deal to be worth their while.
There’s a good chance Cleveland could aim high and ask for top prospects Royce Lewis and/or Alex Kirilloff in return, but it’s unlikely the Twins would be willing to part with either in any scenario. That would leave the next wave of Twins prospects including pitcher Brusdar Graterol, shortstop Wander Javier or Trevor Larnach.
Even then, it’s likely the Indians may want more for Bauer. Perhaps a deal such as Graterol and 2014 first-round pick Nick Gordon could get it done, but even that could be complicated thanks to Graterol nursing a shoulder injury.
There are plenty of ways to get a deal done, but the Twins also need to consider Bauer’s performance so far in 2019 and that hasn’t been good. While Bauer has led the American League with 99 innings pitched, he also leads all of baseball with 45 walks in those innings. He also owns a 3.71 ERA, but also has a 4.14 FIP meaning his defense has helped him out a fair amount this season.
There’s also the matter of Bauer’s 2019 season, which started out strong with a 4-1 record and 2.45 ERA in April, but slumped to 0-4 and a 5.50 ERA in May. His two starts in June have been decent (0-1, 3.45 ERA), but it hasn’t been the dominant performance that Bauer put on in 2018, which is what the Twins would be paying for.
With all of those factors being considered, would adding Bauer to the rotation be better than adding an arm to the back of the bullpen such as Detroit’s Shane Greene or Toronto’s Ken Giles? Or would it be a better option to find an option that wouldn’t command such a high asking price such as Toronto’s Marcus Stroman?
Either way, adding Bauer would be an intriguing piece to a Twins team that looks to be heading toward their first AL Central title since 2010. Such a move would signal that the Twins are serious about not just winning the division, but making a deep run into October. It’s just a matter if both sides want to make it happen.