Though the Indians have played exponentially better over the recent weeks than earlier in the 2019 season, the odds remain likely that general manager Mike Chernoff will look to sell off the Tribe’s most costly pieces in order to prepare for the future. Most likely among those pieces is the ever enigmatic Trevor Bauer, who’s routine of taking the Indians to arbitration could warrant him a one-year, $20 million contract for the 2020 season, according to Cleveland.com in June. Considering also that young starters Zach Plesac, Jefry Rodriguez and Adam Plutko seem more promising by the week, Bauer may not be as irreplaceable as we once thought.
Anyone who has watched any of the Tribe so far in 2019 knows that the outfield is anything but settled. Oscar Mercado has been a pleasant surprise in center. Jake Bauers has flashed his potential with a smooth swing but isn’t ready to be an everyday contributor. Jordan Luplow looks to be nothing more than a platoon player at this point. It remains to be seen whether the Tribe can come up with an impact bat in the corner outfield spots, a surefire need for any club attempting to win baseball games in the 21st century. A healthy return for Bauer is a fine place to start looking.
Clint Frazier’s name has been thrown around for weeks as the MLB Trade Deadline approaches quickly. Tribe fans should be familiar with him, since Cleveland drafted him #5 overall in the 2013 Draft. His insane bat speed and ability to spray the ball to all fields has been noted for years. He’s gotten the chance to show what he can do for the Yankees, only to then be demoted to AAA after the (temporary) return of Giancarlo Stanton and acquisition of Edwin Encarnacion from Seattle.
Frazier is 24 with clearly more room to grow, especially defensively. However, there’s no denying his innate ability to drive the ball at the plate. In just 53 games for New York so far in 2019, he’s hit .283 with 11 home runs along with 34 RBI. Being that only four Indians have 30 RBI or more and only three have more than 10 home runs, the need is there for an upside power bat who has done what only a few Indians have done in 30 fewer games this season. The fact that he hits from the right side doesn’t hurt either. Here in Cleveland, Frazier would get an everyday opportunity to contribute and build upon his impressive start to 2019, a window that doesn’t seem exist in a Yankees outfield with Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge.
Although I would certainly hate to see Bauer donning pinstripes, Tribe fans must prepare for such a scenario given the nature of small market baseball and embrace what pieces they can acquire for the future. Frazier’s name has been thrown around for weeks about a possible deal and it appears Brian Cashman would pull the trigger if a controllable starter is involved. The trade seems like a near perfect fit for both teams considering their needs. Reuniting with their former top-five pick to resume what they started with Frazier could be just what the Indians need to jolt an improving, but a disappointing offense for now and in the coming years.