Trevor Bauer has been struggling. A lot. It's been a rough few months for Bauer and plenty of doubt has crept in regarding his future with the club. Rumblings about trading him and going with guys like Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin for the back of the rotation have been making the rounds, with some knowledgeable folks approving of such a move. So, should the Indians trade Bauer and go another direction?
Let's start with a look at just how bad Bauer has been. The right-hander has made 12 starts since the All-Star break and the Tribe is just 3-9 in those starts. Bauer's 6.32 ERA over those appearances is awful (and 2nd-worst in the AL for the second half), and he allowed five or more earned runs in half of those starts. His season ERA has climbed from 3.76 to 4.71 over that span, a significant jump when considering all of the innings he's thrown. Recently, Bauer was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen.
As bad as those numbers are, it's still easy enough to find plenty of positives when evaluating Bauer. First off, the 24 year old is just that... 24 years young. Plenty of guys his age are putting up decent stats in the minors, while Bauer has been pitching in the Major Leagues almost exclusively for the last two years. Consider Corey Kluber's age 24 season, he had never come close to pitching in the Majors and was toiling away in Double-A with Akron and San Antonio.
Bauer has a unique arsenal of pitches, including a plus curveball that's posted a 6.8 wCB value over the last two years. He throws hard, averaging 93+ MPH on his fastball, while also proving to be durable (Texas Baseball Ranch magic?). Starters that miss bats are highly coveted, and Bauer does that well, striking out almost a batter an inning (8.9 K/9 this year). While this year's 4.69 ERA is not good, his 4.25 xFIP is pretty close to the AL average for starters (4.10).
Yes, Bauer has issues that need refining (command and control), but he is not someone a club like the Indians should easily walk away from. Trading Bauer before next season likely means selling low on the young right-hander, and that's almost never a good way to do business as a small-market team.
Does anybody realistically think we can get a proven bat like Todd Frazier or Brett Gardner for Bauer? More likely the Tribe would have to settle for retreads, costly washed up veterans, or projects if they trade Bauer. Rolling the dice on Bauer is worth way more than picking one of the Adam Laroche's of the world.
Ultimately, Bauer's youth, high ceiling stuff, and peripherals add up to a player the Indians need to be patient with. Please Indians, don't sell low on Trevor.