3) Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians
Trevor Bauer may be a surprise inclusion here given that the Cleveland Indians are well in the race for the American League Wild Card spot. However, Jon Morosi of MLB.com recently reported that the Indians are willing to listen to offers for him given their position in the AL Central behind the red hot Minnesota Twins.
An argument can certainly be made that Bauer should be ahead of Stroman on this list. Bauer has been good for 2.1 WAR so far this year after being one of the best starters in the Major Leagues last season, when he posted career bests in WAR (5.8) and ERA (2.21). He’s been solid starter beyond that as well, posting a WAR of 2.7 and 2.8 in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Bauer has continued to strike out over ten batters per nine innings for the third consecutive season, while maintaining a manageable HR/9 rate of 1.22. He’s also average more innings per start this season (6.57) than he did during his breakout year last season (6.48)
The concern with Bauer is his underlying stats. His DRA of 4.87, and FIP of 4.20, suggests that he hasn’t been as good as his ERA shows. He’s giving up hard contact on batted balls in play at a career high rate (41%) while inducing ground balls at lower rate (40.3%) than he has since 2015. He’s also getting paid $13 million this year, a significant figure for a Milwaukee Brewers team that’s already stretched to their payroll limit this season.
Regardless of those concerns, though, Bauer is still an elite option. He’s been a consistent fixture in Cleveland’s rotation now for four seasons. Like Boyd and Stroman, he is just 28. BUT, he has major post-season experience to go with his strong regular season track record. He also has a year of control beyond this season, making him more than just a short-term option. The Milwaukee Brewers will certainly kick the tires on him in the coming weeks.