The rumors about the Indians trading a young starter have been around for months now. Everyone is naturally focused on Carlos Carrasco as he's a tremendous pitcher on a very team friendly contract. But the Indians are said to be much more interested in moving Danny Salazar. He's good too but maybe a tier below Carrasco. It could make sense to move him because his value will net them a good return.
Their chief needs are in left field and first base. While filling the former via free agency is very possible, first base will be much more difficult. It could be that a trade is their only real option. However Carrasco and Salazar are very good starting pitchers. Dealing one of them to address their need at another position might just be an example of filling one hole to create another. I wonder if they wouldn't be more interested in dealing Trevor Bauer instead?
Bauer was once a highly touted prospect. Back in 2013 Baseball Prospectus had him 24th on their Top 101 list. He hasn't come close to living up to the frontline potential scouts once saw, but it's far too early to label him a failed prospect.
He's spent the past two seasons between AAA and MLB having thrown 329 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 4.18 FIP. Those numbers aren't exactly inspiring but his 22.9 K% is above average (20.4%). His biggest probably has always been commanding his pitches and his walk rate has suffered because of it: 9.9 BB%.
If he could finally take a step forward with his command a breakout could follow. He throws a relatively large variety of pitches. Within his repertoire are a four seam fastball, two seam fastball, slider, curveball, change-up, and split finger fastball. Last year he also threw a cutter. Perhaps eliminating a pitch or two could help?
That brings up an issue I've heard about him. He apparently is difficult to coach. He doesn't want to listen I guess. Clearly he doesn't know what's best for him. I wonder if a trade to the third organization of his career and his recent lack of success might have a humbling effect on him? There's still raw potential to be unlocked. If a coach could get to him maybe it can still happen. He seems a prime "change of scenery" candidate.
That potential comes with five more years of team control. After the 2015 season Trevor Bauer fell about 18 games short of accruing two full seasons of MLB service time. That means a team still has those five years, but he also earned Super Two status. He has one more year of pre-arbitration before going through 4 years of arbitration.
If the Indians want to compete next year they probably do need to trade one of their starters. While Danny Salazar could net them a higher return, it might make sense for them to deal Bauer instead. He's less established and might help their rotation less than Salazar. The Brewers are in the position where they can afford to let Bauer continue struggling. They aren't competing now and the payoff could be huge. It would also make dealing a pitcher like Wily Peralta much easier to do.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs
Contract details courtesy of Cot's Contracts