The Phillies have checked in with pretty much every team about every player perceived to be available on the trade market. GM Matt Klentak indicated as much Tuesday in Detroit (see story).
Thus, it is not exactly big news that the Phillies and Cleveland Indians have discussed right-handed ace Trevor Bauer, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi.
Bauer is under team control through the end of the 2020 season.
If Bauer is truly available, he is the best starting pitcher on the market. Better than Matthew Boyd, better than Marcus Stroman, better than Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner. Bauer is one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The 28-year-old has reached a higher level these last two seasons. Since the start of 2018, Bauer has a 2.80 ERA in 328 innings with 400 strikeouts and just 31 home runs allowed.
He has a dynamic arsenal of pitches — a mid-to-high-90s fastball, a curveball, slider, cutter and changeup. His breaking balls are both plus-plus pitches.
With Bauer, though, there is more to consider than just his performance on the mound. He has been a headache for his teams over the years, whether it was the Diamondbacks early in his career or the Indians in recent years. Bauer has his own way of preparing, his own philosophies on pitching, and he is extremely outspoken. He's publicly beefed with other players such as Astros All-Star Alex Bregman, and he's had some truly odd moments on Twitter, responding in petty ways to criticism.
With Bauer, a team has to weigh the pros and cons. How much do the off-field controversies diminish his on-field performance? How much does the extracurricular stuff affect a team's willingness to pay him when he reaches free agency at age 30 and could be on track for a contract between $140 million and $200 million?
There's no denying that Bauer is an elite pitcher. He's as good, if not better than Aaron Nola and would give the Phillies a formidable 1-2 punch if they can somehow acquire him. Bauer, as a bat-misser, also fits what the Phillies want from a top-of-the-rotation arm more so than a Stroman.
Cleveland's position in the standings is also a factor here. The Indians are 58-42, three games behind the Twins in the AL Central and currently in the first wild-card spot in the AL.
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