Trevor Bauer is as good of a right-handed pitcher as there is in the big leagues, and he might be available if the Indians' playoff hopes are free falling before the July 31 MLB trade deadline.
This is where Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic comes in.
The longtime MLB insider believes (paywall) Bauer to the Twins makes sense (he's not reporting that there's any traction) despite Minnesota and Cleveland playing in the same division.
"A rotation led by Berrios, Odorizzi and Bauer would be formidable in a postseason series. And if the Indians can acquire the right prospects from a Twins farm system ranked seventh by Baseball America – outbidding, among others, the team with the top-rated system, the Padres – playing in the same division shouldn’t prevent a trade from taking place."
Best-case scenario for Cleveland would be dealing Bauer (3.71 ERA, 109 strikeouts in 99 1/3 innings) to the National League, but if the Twins really are all-in on playing for a World Series, what's to stop them from offering up some high-end prospects for Bauer, who is under team control through 2020?
A post-draft ranking of MLB farm systems by Bleacher Report lists the Twins 10th, led by shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff.
"They rolled the dice on the biggest pop-up prospect of the spring when they took Keoni Cavaco with the No. 13 overall pick. He backs his impressive raw power with plus speed and an excellent glove at the hot corner, giving him a chance to impact the game in a number of ways.The one to keep an eye on here is right-hander Jordan Balazovic. The 20-year-old has posted a 2.09 ERA and 0.81 WHIP while limiting opposing hitters to a .173 average and racking up 75 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. A fifth-round pick in 2016, he's starting to fill out his 6'4" frame, and his stuff is trending upward as a result."
Who could the Twins give up to get Bauer?
It's going to cost a ton to get a 28-year-old workhorse capable of piling up innings and strikeouts with a fastball that averages 95 mph (can go higher), a knee-buckling curveball and a developing changeup.
Would the Twins be willing to trade Lewis or Kirilloff, who rank fourth and ninth, respectively, in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list?
Both are high-end offensive prospects, while Minnesota's top pitching prospect, Brusdar Graterol – ranked 57th by MLB Pipeline – is currently injured with a shoulder problem.
It seems reasonable that getting Bauer would require one of those three, and maybe more depending on what other teams offer.
If the Padres, who have 10 of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, are willing to make an offer for Bauer, it's going to be difficult for any other team to compete without giving up the best of the best in their system.
Then again, San Diego (33-34 entering play Wednesday) is fourth in the NL West and 4 1/2 games back in the wild-card race. There's a chance they won't be looking to buy before the trade deadline.
Rosenthal also notes that Bauer and Derek Falvey, the Twins' chief baseball officer, are good friends from their days in Cleveland together. Whether that could play a role in a possible trade is an unknown, but it's a notable fact.
Another risk with Bauer is that he claims he'll never sign a multi-year deal once he's eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. Why? Because he made a bet a long time ago that if he does he'll let his buddy shoot him in the crotch with a pellet gun from 10 feet away.