Can the Phillies net the biggest fish on the trade market at the deadline?
Perhaps the best arm potentially available is Cincinnati Reds starter Trevor Bauer, who is putting together a Cy Young caliber season after being traded from Cleveland last year.
In four starts Bauer is 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA, fueled by two complete game shutouts, something few imagined given where baseball, especially pitchers, stood coming out of the summer camp restart.
Bauer currently ranks in the top-10 among all starters this year in both WAR and wins with 41 strikeouts to go with it. At 29-years-old, he’s certainly one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The big question is whether the Reds will trade Bauer after getting only 14 starts out of him since acquiring him last year. They gave up some big prospects in the three-team deal with San Diego and Cleveland, so the asking price won’t be cheap.
Cincinnati is also still in the playoff hunt despite being four games under .500 and 5.5 games out of first place. They went all out last offseason getting Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos in free agency, so giving up on the 2020 season after 30 games isn’t ideal from a front office standpoint.
But in the big picture, Bauer is in the final year of his contract and has publically stated that he wants to go year-to-year with his deals to earn as much money as possible. He’s also a very outspoken person, which may or may not mesh well in Philadelphia.
Players like Jonathan Papelbon were fine in the city when the team was doing well, but when things went wrong it usually meant the end of their time here.
If the Phillies really want to go all in on the 2020 season and acquire Bauer, they might have to give up a top prospect. Given the financial flexibility and success both Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard provide, it’s hard to see the Phillies giving either of them up.
Likely wanting to keep Mick Abel, their first round pick from 2020, their only other top 100 prospect s 2019 first round pick Bryson Stott, who barely cracked the list as the 95th best prospect. The Phillies will need a long-term shortstop soon, and Stott is their best chance at that. Do they trade a former first round pick for only a couple of starts out of Bauer, who they’d have to re-sign while also attempting to keep Realmuto?
These are the questions Klentak and the rest of the Phillies front office will have to consider as they fight to keep their jobs beyond 2020.