CLEVELAND — Will right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer still be a part of the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation on August 1?

That question has been a top of much discussion since the offseason, and as the July 31 MLB trade deadline approaches, the debate continues.

On Friday, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported that according to a source, the San Diego Padres “have emerged as the most serious suitor for Bauer.” Morosi says the Padres want Bauer to lead the rotation through 2020 and lists Franmil Reyes, Hunter Renfroe or Luis Urias as possible trade assets.

“A large part of the Indians’ motivation in trading Bauer pertains to their 2020 payroll,” Morosi writes. “Bauer is due to receive a sizable raise in salary arbitration next year, and Cleveland holds a $17.5 million club option on longtime ace Corey Kluber.

“If both right-handers return, the Indians would need to allocate roughly $45 million to three pitchers: Bauer, Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. That projects to roughly one-third of the club’s 2019 Opening Day payroll figure of around $120 million -- creating a significant imbalance, particularly in light of arbitration raises for shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Mike Clevinger.”

Trevor Bauer Cleveland Indians-Kansas City Royals Baseball
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer delivers to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
Orlin Wagner

Reportedly, the Padres tried to acquire Kluber in the offseason, but were unable to strike a deal that worked for both sides.

MLB.com’s Jason Beck reported that scouts for the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds were among those in attendance for Bauer’s start against the Detroit Tigers Thursday.

Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton referenced the noticeable increase in scout attendance during Thursday’s game, which Cleveland won, 6-3, in front of the home fans at Progressive Field.

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Earlier this week, ESPN baseball senior writer Buster Olney expressed the belief that the Indians should deal Bauer and possibly closer Brad Hand as well if the front office is not confident in the team’s ability to make a long postseason run and compete for a World Series title in 2019.

“There is serious interest in Bauer despite the right-hander's inconsistency this season, and rival teams are frothing after Hand, the left-handed closer whose contract will keep him under team control at a solid rate through the 2021 season,” Olney wrote.

“The trade value for each player might never be higher than it is right now.”

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In 22 starts this season, Bauer has posted a 9-7 record and 3.67 earned run average over a league-high 144.2 innings pitched. Bauer has allowed 115 hits, 56 walks, 68 runs, 59 of which have been earned, and 22 home runs against 170 strikeouts in 2019.

Bauer has been a double-digit winner in his previous four seasons, totaling 52 victories from 2015-2018. Additionally, Bauer, a 2018 American League All-Star, has struck out at least 143 batters in each of the last six years, with his single-season career-best, 221, coming in 28 appearances in 2018.

Over his last seven starts, Bauer is 5-1 with a 3.57 ERA and 61 strikeouts against 11 walks over 45.1 innings pitched.