Indians Bolster Outfield; Did They Bolster Betting Odds?

Rodney K

In a blockbuster trade including the Indians, Reds, and Padres, starter Trevor Bauer was sent to Cincinnati in return for outfielders YasielPuig and FranmilReyes, as well as left-hander Logan Allen.

Beating the trade deadline by less than 24 hours, Cleveland made its move while holding a 2.5-game advantage in the Wildcard race and trailing the American League Central-leading Twins by three games.

On the side of the Indians, the trade was a straightforward one: an arm for two bats.

The two biggest names involved (Bauer and Puig) both exited their former clubs in unique ways. When being pulled by manager TitoFrancona in his last outing for the Indians, Bauer responded by launching the ball over the centerfield wall from the mound, while Puig was involved in a bench-clearing scuffle with the Reds after being traded Tuesday night.

While more and more analysts expected Bauer to stay with The Tribe as the deadline approached and the Indians look poised for another playoff run, why did Cleveland decide to pull the trigger?

Why the Indians Traded Bauer

Under contract through the 2020 season, the right-handed Bauer has been solid this season. The 28-year-old is 9-8 with a 3.79 ERA and 185 strikeouts. So, why is the 2018 All Star on his way out?

The reasons for Bauer’s departure are three fold.

First, the club hasn’t felt they’ve gotten enough out of the veteran pitcher this year, especially considering some of Bauer’s antics. In addition to tossing the ball over the wall days ago, Bauer has also taken jabs at opposing pitchers on social media and possibly cost the Indians a World Series title when he was unable to continue Game 3 after just 21 pitches because he sliced his finger on a drone prior to the game.

Second, Cleveland wanted more power in the lineup. With a combined 49 home runs on the season, Puig and Reyes offer a big upgrade in that department. Puig is currently batting .252 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs, while Reyes is batting .255 with 27 homers and 46 RBIs.

Lastly, the Indians feel like their rotation will be good enough without Bauer down the stretch. In addition to the likes of Shane Bieber (10-4, 3.40 ERA) and Mike Clevinger (5-2, 3.28 ERA), Cleveland is likely to get back two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (broken arm).

The Indians are also hopeful to get Carlos Carrasco back into the rotation following his diagnosis of Leukemia earlier this year.

The Indians feel they’ve upgraded their squad, but do oddsmakers feel the same way?

How the Trade Impacted Odds

The Indians have their sights set on a playoff berth and, eventually, a World Series. Thus far, that end goal has looked relatively realistic.

Before the Bauer trade, Cleveland was sitting on +1600 odds to win the World Series, alongside Minnesota and the Cubs. That put the Indians behind only the Braves (+900), Yankees (+450), Astros (+300), and Dodgers (+300).

After shipping off a veteran starter in exchange for two outfield bats, the Indians’ odds have NOT changed, remaining at +1600.

The Padres, who were the third team involved in the trade and recipients of Reds outfield prospect Taylor Trammell, also experienced no change to their +50000 odds to win the World Series.

Interestingly, the Reds (49-56) saw their odds improve from +50000 to +20000 after acquiring Bauer. Currently, 6.5 games back in the National League Central and NL Wildcard race, Cincinnati has apparently gone from longshot to potential dark horse, though they’re still unlikely to sneak into playoff baseball.

Before the trade, the Indians ranked in the top five in the majors with just 4.06 runs allowed per game and were a middle-of-the-pack team offensively with 4.66 runs scored per game. We’ll have to see how the departure of Bauer and arrival of Puig and Reyes change those positions, although Vegas doesn’t seem to think the club is projected to change much as a whole.

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