MLB Trade Rumors: Buzz on Trevor Bauer and More Ahead of Deadline

Martin FennCorrespondent IAugust 28, 2020

Cincinnati Reds' Trevor Bauer pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds hoped this would be the year they reasserted themselves as challengers in the National League Central Division. Alas, that hasn't happened.

Although their starting rotation has been effective, the bullpen has been shaky and the Reds lineup has been among the least productive in the NL.

The Reds are 13-17 after sweeping Thursday's doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers and are still within striking distance of a playoff spot. But they have to decide whether to buy or sell ahead of Monday's trade deadline, and right-hander Trevor Bauer is the first name to consider.

The 29-year-old has been terrific for Cincinnati this year, going 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA and an NL-best 0.74 WHIP through his first five starts. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, which would make him a savory trade piece as a rental.

Insiders seem split about what the Reds will do with Bauer, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Two executives suggested the team could move him if they struggle prior to the deadline, whereas another stated they would be "surprised" if they traded him.

The Reds believed they were trading for a potential ace when they acquired the Californian from the Cleveland Indians at last year's deadline.

They certainly took paid a large price. The Reds parted ways with top prospect Taylor Trammell as part of the three-team deal, and they were also taking on Bauer's impending arbitration salary.

Cincinnati was 50-56 at the time and 6.5 games back in the NL Central. But the acquisition of Bauer seemingly gave them another front-end starter alongside Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. That was hardly the case, though, as Bauer posted a 6.39 ERA and gave up 12 homers in 10 starts with the Reds, who limped to a 75-87 finish.

But Bauer has allowed only four home runs in 32.2 innings this year, and he also leads the majors in hits allowed per nine innings (4.1) while leading the NL in strikeouts per nine (13.5).

The outspoken righty has added a ton of spin to his four-seamer, leading to vastly improved results. Opponents are hitting just .115 with a .306 slugging percentage off his fastball after hitting .273 with a .578 slugging percentage last year, per Baseball Savant.

However, Bauer has also had the good fortune of facing lackluster offenses, with two starts against both the Brewers and Detroit Tigers and one against the Kansas City Royals. 

This weekend might be the determinant in Bauer's status going forward. The Reds have a four-game series with the first-place Chicago Cubs, including a doubleheader on Saturday. If they play .500 or above, they might choose to keep him. Otherwise, he could be on the move.


Teams Have 'Done Homework' on Carter Kieboom   

Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Washington Nationals are in a similar position to the Reds.

They fell to 11-17 after Wednesday's loss to the Philadelphia Phillies and must now choose whether to push for the playoffs or plan for next season. Should they choose to buy, the Nats might have an asset in infield prospect Carter Kieboom. 

Teams have "done homework" on the 22-year-old, according to veteran MLB reporter Robert Murray, who added that Washington might be amenable to dealing him given he cannot seem to get regular at-bats.

The Nationals figured Kieboom, once a top prospect, would be the starting third baseman after Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels last season. The youngster had a respectable .359 OBP and showed he could draw walks, but he also failed to register a single extra-base hit through his first 17 games.

Still, the Georgia native is young, and it seems a number of teams appear fairly keen on his upside. So, the question becomes: How much can they get back for selling him?

Not to mention, Dave Martinez and Co. have to decide whether they are impressed enough with 20-year-old Luis Garcia to possibly plug him up the middle and shift Starlin Castro over to third.


Mets to be a 'Surprising Player' at Deadline?   

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The New York Mets appear to be sending mixed signals as to how they will approach this year's deadline.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported a number of executives feel they will be very aggressive, citing increased cap flexibility and the impending sale of the team.

However, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has indicated the opposite in recent days. He said the team will be "very careful" at the deadline, via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, and also stated he would like to be cautious with the team's future.

Still, the second-year GM noted "rental" players might not be very costly, and that might be all the Mets can afford. They have the 20th-ranked farm system, per MLB.com, and appear unlikely to part with top prospects after sending Jarred Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners in last year's Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade.

At the same time, the Mets desperately need to bolster a rotation that ranks 22nd in ERA, per FanGraphs. Taijuan Walker is no longer on the market, but it is possible the Mets try to acquire San Francisco Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman, who is on an expiring contract and is striking out 12.1 hitters per nine innings.


All stats obtained via Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.