In a bold transaction given their standing in the National League Central (6 ½ games behind) and wild-card race (also 6 ½ games back), the Reds on Tuesday night acquired right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer from the Cleveland Indians, one tine of a three-way, seven-player trade that included the San Diego Padres, sources confirmed. ESPN was the first to report the basis of the trade, which will be official after a review of medical reports.
On Sunday, the Mets sent two minor leaguers to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman, a player expected to be fed into the starting rotation of a contender. The transaction shrunk an already small pool of available impact pitchers. Then, as teams such as the New York Yankees and Houston Astros adjusted their sights to, for one, Bauer, it was the Reds who stole Bauer, who, like Stroman, is under contract through the end of next season. The Indians received five players in the deal, including eccentric outfielder Yasiel Puig.
The deal, as it played out Tuesday night:
The Reds received Bauer, who was 9-8 with a 3.79 ERA in 24 starts for Cleveland. His final act for the Indians, after a tepid outing Sunday in Kansas City, was to heave a baseball over the center-field fence as manager Terry Francona arrived to remove him from the game.
The Padres received Taylor Trammell from the Reds. Trammell, 21, is a 6-foot-2 outfielder taken 35th overall in the 2016 MLB draft. He is regarded as a top-50 prospect in baseball.
The Indians received Puig and minor-league left-hander Scott Moss from the Reds and three players — outfielder Franmil Reyes, 22-year-old left-hander Logan Allen and 19-year-old infielder Victor Nova — from the Padres.
Short on offense and becoming healthier in their rotation as they pressed the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, the Indians dealt Bauer for the immediate return of two power-hitting outfielders — Puig and Reyes.
Puig hit .255 with 22 home runs in 100 games with the Reds, his first season away from the Los Angeles Dodgers. After starting slowly, Puig had hit .300 for the past month. As is often the case, life with Puig can be complicated. Even as the news of the trade was breaking, Puig was a central character in a brawl between the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. He was ejected and is likely to be suspended.
Reyes, 24, had 27 home runs in 99 games for the Padres, who remain in rebuild mode in spite of consecutive offseasons in which they signed Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado to $444-million worth of contracts. Allen, 22, came to the Padres from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel trade in 2015 and Nova, 19, is in rookie ball.
It also served to redirect the pitching market to the likes of Madison Bumgarner, if the San Francisco Giants were moved to trade him, Texas Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, New York Mets right-handers Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler and Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Robbie Ray and, perhaps, Zack Greinke.
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