The MLB trade deadline is just over two days away, but the Cleveland Indians have yet to decide what they’ll do with their biggest trade chip.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Indians are still evaluating possible Bauer trades, and had not made a firm decision whether to buy or sell as of Monday morning.
The Indians continue to evaluate possible trade scenarios involving Trevor Bauer. Haven’t made a hard buy/sell decision either way.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 29, 2019
Cleveland is in an odd spot. They’re in the midst of a surge that has seen them climb to within two games of the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins, and they occupy the first AL wild card spot. The somewhat modest return the Toronto Blue Jays got for Marcus Stroman could also impact the team’s thinking. That said, they are also facing the reality of paying Bauer a hefty salary in 2020 before losing him to free agency, which has motivated them to seek trades now. It may also be that some of his antics are grating on the organization.
For what it’s worth, rival teams believe they know what the Indians will ultimately do with Bauer. It seems the team itself hasn’t quite committed either way.
The Cleveland Indians remain squarely in the playoff hunt and are just three games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central after winning eight of their last 10, but they are still exploring the possibility of trading Trevor Bauer.
As expected, several teams have expressed interest in Bauer with the trade deadline now a week away. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Philadelphia Phillies are among them, and they have had discussions with the Indians.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 24, 2019
Despite their inconsistencies this season, the Phillies are just a half-game back in the NL wild card race and six games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Adding a top starting pitcher could provide them with the spark they need down the stretch, and Bauer is not the only one they are keeping an eye on.
Bauer is 9-7 with a 3.49 ERA this season. He has one more year of arbitration left, and he will likely make somewhere in the range of $20 million next season before becoming a free agent. The Indians appear to have decided they can’t afford to keep him, which is why a trade is being considered. There are multiple teams interested in acquiring the right-hander, and one appears to be pursuing him more aggressively than all the others. Obviously, that can change in a hurry as the deadline nears.
It is a seller’s market in Major League Baseball this July. The bulk of MLB teams can at least claim to be in contention, sitting within five games of either the division or a wild card spot, and that means a lot of teams are going to be competing for limited resources ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
Sure, most contenders would probably like to upgrade. But which ones really need to most of all? Here are ten teams that most need to make a move with the deadline looming.
10. Houston Astros
On the surface, the Astros would seem to have everything, sitting comfortably in first place in the AL West. However, they could use another starter behind the devastating 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It won’t be the end of the world if the Astros opt to stand pat, but in a loaded American League, their best shot at matching up with the Yankees may be to load up on pitching and put their aces up against their playoff rivals. Plus, some of their players are eager for reinforcements.
The All-Star break is a good time to step back and assess where the 30 teams across Major League Baseball stand. Some teams comfortably occupy first place, some are facing a second half of playing out a string of meaningless games, and then there is the group caught in the middle.
In the past, second half runs have been a big part of baseball. Teams that hadn’t really made an impression by mid-July can catch fire and change the scope of the division and playoff picture in a hurry in the second half. After all, there’s a long way to go, and there’s no guarantee that the first place teams now will win the division.
Here are eight teams that had decent first halves, but have the capability to make some real noise in the second half of the MLB season.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
There’s a lot to like about the Diamondbacks, which rank in the top six in the NL in both OPS and ERA. In other words, they’re a well-balanced team that can both hit and pitch rather effectively. Despite their 46-45 record, they’ve scored 64 more runs than they’ve allowed, indicating a team that should be performing significantly better. They have two good power hitters in Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, an ace in Zack Grienke, and solid pieces in the bullpen. Don’t be surprised to see them play to a higher level after the All-Star break.
The surging Cleveland Indians have won six games in a row to pull within 5.5 games of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, but financial realities mean that the team may have to deal a key piece in the midst of it all.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Indians will be “aggressive listeners” on pitcher Trevor Bauer ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Bauer will likely make in the neighborhood of $20 million next season before heading to free agency, and with widespread interest in starting pitching, they may take the opportunity to move him now in return for MLB-ready talent in the knowledge that they won’t be able to afford him for much longer.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 8, 2019
Rosenthal lists the New York Yankees as a potentially interested party, and their top evaluator, Tim Naehring, was in attendance for Bauer’s most recent start.
This is also the reason that the Indians aggressively explored Bauer trades during the offseason. In theory, they could wait to trade him after 2019, but if there’s interest now and someone makes a good offer, they won’t be able to resist the temptation to take it.
The 28-year-old right-hander has a 3.61 ERA in a league-leading 132 innings so far this season.
Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis seemed a little frustrated when assessing the state of the AL Central after Sunday’s loss.
The Indians were preseason favorites in the division, but sit at 29-30 after losing three of four to the rebuilding Chicago White Sox. With that, the Indians and White Sox have the same record, both sitting 11.5 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins.
According to Kipnis, the equal records are meaningless, because the Indians can’t do any worse and the White Sox can’t do any better.
“Think about it, we have the same record. We’re playing like s— and they’re playing as good as they can and we have the same record, to put it in perspective,” Kipnis said, via Kevin Powell of WGN Radio. “Are they playing better than us? At least this series, absolutely. I think they’ll admit it too, that it’s too early to celebrate a second place trophy on June 2.”
It feels like a bit of frustration boiling over from Kipnis’s perspective. The Indians are a long-shot to even get back in the division race at this point, and two months into the season, they aren’t playing well at all. Injuries have played a part in that, but it’s not that simple, and the hole is getting deeper and deeper. Sure, the odds still favor Cleveland finishing ahead of Chicago this year, but their ambitions are much higher than that.
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Players and coaches make many mistakes throughout the course of a 162-game MLB season, so it would be unfair of us to expect the ball boy or ball girl to be perfect. One of the young men working a recent game between the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays needs to keep that in mind.
During the ninth inning of Cleveland’s 6-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday, the ball boy working the right field line had an embarrassing moment when he fielded a ball that was clearly fair and handed it to a young fan. Even the fan realized it was a mistake and tried to immediately give it back.
Everyone has had a day or two like this at the old ball yard. Go get ‘em tomorrow kid. pic.twitter.com/uyp8jeVjGt
— Shane Davis (@CoachDavis43) May 26, 2019
The ball clearly bounced twice in fair territory, but the ball boy was asleep at the wheel. Fortunately, the play did not impact the outcome of the game. It was ruled a ground-rule double, and a double likely would have been the result anyway.
It’s interesting that the flub took place in the ninth, as baseball has been examining a number of different ways to speed up the pace of the game. Perhaps the Indians ball boy would have benefitted from a shorter game in this case.