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The Cleveland Indians traded a good pitcher, and are better off for it -- Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

The Cleveland Indians traded Trevor Bauer for two bats that should help them make it to October and possibly win once they get there.
Credit: David Dermer/AP
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer waits for Minnesota Twins' Max Kepler to run the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game , Saturday, July 13, 2019, in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND — Let's break down the Indians trade of Trevor Bauer as succinctly as possible.

They add a pair of guys who can hit it out of the park regularly in exchange for one player who would have to throw it over the fence (and did) to get it there.

That tradeoff makes the Indians better.

Not every day of the week. There's always a catch.

But four out of every five days for the rest of the season, which -- along with long-range considerations -- is enough to commend the front office on another smart deadline deal.

If that fifth day worries you, OK. Until you see what the Indians have in Danny Salazar and Corey Kluber, that’s understandable.

This move by Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff, though, is exactly what the Indians needed to improve their October chances and prop up an every-day lineup short on power bats.

RELATED: Cleveland Indians trade pitcher Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati Reds in three-team deal, receive OF Yasiel Puig, OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen

The Indians were never going to be sellers in the traditional sense. They were never looking to tear down the roster, even before their best-in-baseball July run.

 They need to enjoy Frankie Lindor while they have him, too (to borrow a phrase.) And trying to contend while Lindor is here is the only way to do that.

Under these circumstances, in return for Bauer they needed major-league ready bats -- not an organization’s top lower level prospects. They got two, one who could be here for years to come.

Yasiel Puig, who comes from the Reds (probably once his suspension is served) and Franmil Reyes, who comes from the Padres, bring immediate and welcome muscle to a lineup shut down far too often this season.

Puig was involved in a  bench clearing brawl against Pittsburgh in the ninth inning, even as this trade was being completed. It was his fourth ejection of the season, two short of his career number of ejections with the Dodgers.

It’s difficult to say whose exit from his team was more calamitous — Puig going WWE in Cincinnati or Bauer throwing a ball from the pitcher’s mound over the wall in Kansas City Sunday.

But don’t paint with too broad a brush. Both are quirky. But only one — Puig — admitted he didn’t always give his best  in Los Angeles.

So please spare the “intense competitor” label for Puig.

The Indians will have him on the same short term contract he had in Cincinnati. He can become a free agent next year. So maybe he’ll stay motivated. Maybe not. A pennant race should help.

Despite Bauer’s faults, he was a proven, resilient, sturdy and often excellent starter who never shorted himself or his team on effort.

He led the American League in innings pitched and was fourth in strikeouts this season. He also made teammates better, if you believe the testimonials from Mike Clevinger and others Indians pitchers.

But he wasn’t going to sign here (or anywhere, he claims) long term and could’ve commanded a salary next year that made little sense for the Indians.

Bauer said his goodbyes in the Indians clubhouse Tuesday shortly after a 2-0 loss to the Houston Astros. This is still the American League, where scoring lots of runs comes in handy.

If you called Tuesday a matchup of aces — Justin Verlander versus Shane Bieber — you wouldn’t be wrong.

Bieber’s emergence doesn’t mean the Indians won’t miss Bauer. But the return they got offensively for dealing Bauer means the Indians are better positioned to get to October and maybe even win once they arrive.

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