CLEVELAND, Ohio – Rarely do you hear Terry Francona say anything negative about a player.
And when a player leaves, the Cleveland Indians manager is invariably complimentary.
He was that about Trevor Bauer … to an extent … after the righthander was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. Francona praised Bauer as a pitcher: “He’ll be hard to replace.”
But it’s obvious Francona was happy and somewhat relieved by the trade sending Bauer to the Reds.
That’s especially true after the Sunday game in Kansas City. In the fifth inning, Bauer lost his poise and fired a ball over the center field wall as Francona was walking to the mound to take the pitcher out of the game.
“I had concerns what it (the incident) could do to our team,” Francona said. “I voiced those concerns. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit worried.”
My guess is Francona was really worried and concerned. This was not the only Bauer outburst that has been bothering the team lately.
The Indians were not going to deal Bauer unless they received a lot in return – and they did just that. As I wrote earlier, I really like the deal.
HELP ON THE WAY
They changed the look of their lineup when the three-team trade was completed with the Reds and San Diego Padres.
Of immediate help to the Tribe are outfielders Yasiel Puig (from the Reds) and Franmil Reyes (from the Padres). Those are two right-handed power bats. Puig will play left field, Reyes will be the DH.
Those two players have combined for 49 HR this season.
“You start to get excited about what is coming,” said Francona.
Puig is batting .252 (.785 OPS) with 22 HR and 61 RBI. He is a free agent at the end of the season, a short-term acquisition for the Tribe. He is facing a suspension for being a part of the Reds brawl with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
Francona said his baseball friends told him the Indians were going to “get the best two months of his (Puig’s) career.”
The manager said the 24-year-old Reyes is “revered” in the San Diego clubhouse for his leadership.
The Indians talked about the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Reyes being in the middle of their lineup for the next five seasons. They also added pitching prospects Logan Allen and Scott Moss, along with 19-year infielder Victor Nova, who is in the Arizona Rookie League.
Francona believes part of the Tribe’s edge is team chemistry. He had six years of the eccentric Bauer. The manager helped Bauer to grow into a very good pitcher.
But Francona and the front office have been concerned for a while about the impact of Bauer on his teammates.
Francona is not a manager with a lot of rules. They come down to being on time and respecting the game.
Bauer’s actions were disrespectful to his teammates and the manager.
I had the sense listening to the veteran manager that he and others were suffering from a form of Bauer fatigue. It wasn’t going to doom the team’s pennant hopes.
But if the Indians could make a good deal involving Bauer, the manager was all for it.
The Indians also treasure continuity. The combination of president Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff and Francona are in their seventh season together.
At the end of his press conference, Francona explained that he receives “too much credit around here” and more praise should go to Antonetti and Chernoff.
Maybe the trade doesn’t work. There’s risk with any deal.
But given Francona’s response after the trade, it’s clear this was trade that had to be made.