Cleveland Indians: Trevor Bauer deserving of long term extension

The Cleveland Indians are in the middle of their season, where contract extensions are rarely talked about. But after this season, they should look to sign Trevor Bauer to a long term deal.

During spring training, the Cleveland Indians reportedly tried to talk to Trevor Bauer about a long term contract extension to keep him in Cleveland beyond the 2020 season when he will be eligible for free agency.

Trevor Bauer won his arbitration case this spring, and he seemed very annoyed with the process, even though he won. The extra money he go in that salary was put into his 69 Days of Giving that wrapped up recently, where he donated that extra cash to several charities around the Cleveland area.

Bauer likely doesn’t want to have to go through arbitration again, and the easiest way to avoid that, is to sign a long term extension.

There’s clearly interest on the side of the Cleveland Indians as they broached this topic with him this spring after he hadn’t been able to post a sub-4.00 ERA in his career up to this point.

Trevor Bauer’s performance

But his performance this season should change that state of affairs. Bauer has a 2.62 ERA through his first 13 starts of the season. He’s been a workhorse for the Tribe’s rotation, throwing at least 100 pitches in each of his outings this year.

Bauer has gone at least seven innings in six of his 13 starts this season. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, striking out at least 10 batters in four of his last five starts.

Bauer’s nine quality starts in his 13 games gives him a nice 69% quality start percentage. I’m sure Bauer will love that stat. It’s also the best quality start percentage of his career. By all of these stats, Bauer has only been getting better in all facets of the game in 2018.

A potential contract extension

What the Cleveland Indians need is cost certainty over the contracts of their young players. With Bauer winning his arbitration case this year, coupled with his improved performance, he’s going to see a big raise next year in arbitration. With a payroll that’s stretched thin as it is, the Indians front office should want to control that cost and give themselves some financial flexibility.

The heart of this starting rotation is under contract for a few more years as well. Corey Kluber is under team control through 2021 at a relatively cheap price considering how dominant he is. Carlos Carrasco is under contract through 2020, and so is Bauer right now. In terms of looking towards the future, locking up Bauer beyond that 2020-2021 range would be a smart move.

Bauer could be a frontline guy if he’s ever not in a rotation with Kluber or Carrasco, and that’s what he’s proving this year.

What could the contract look like?

At 27 years old, Bauer is the youngest regular member of this Indians starting rotation. Signing him to a four or five year extension that buys out his final two years of arbitration and a couple years of free agency would make a lot of sense.

As far as the money it would take to sign Bauer, it would likely be a back-loaded deal, with the annual salary increasing every season. But this will not be a cheap sign. Bauer is a smart guy, and he won’t sell himself for less than market value.

Kluber signed a five year, $38.5 million deal, Carrasco signed a four year, $22 million deal, both absolute steals for the front office. I would have to think that Bauer won’t sign a deal for money like that.

If Bauer signs a five year deal, I don’t think he signs for less than $50 million over the life of that contract. He could be worth way more than that, but $50 million I think is the floor for what he would sign for. I could easily see a deal for $60-70 million over five years for Bauer. Whether the Indians want to go that high or not is up to them, but when the offseason comes around, it’s time to plan for the future, and that could start with locking up Trevor Bauer.

The Cleveland Indians won’t negotiate any sort of contract extension with Bauer during the season, so this will have to wait until the offseason. Last winter was a slow one for this front office, but it’s going to be a busy one next winter with a lot of big decisions to make.

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