CLEVELAND, Ohio — Teammates do not always get along and most of the time it doesn’t matter.
Gold Glovers Robby Alomar and Omar Vizquel were not crazy about each other, but when they played for the Indians in the middle of the infield they were poetry in motion.
Do similar tensions exist between two of the Indians’ top starting pitchers in Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber? Or is it just the clinical way Bauer’s mind works?
Bauer was interviewed on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show Thursday morning. He was asked about rumors that the Indians were going to trade a starting pitcher to keep their payroll under control. The main candidates were Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and himself.
In a matter of fact manner, Bauer said that Carrasco’s and his “surplus value’ was so high that it didn’t make sense for the Indians to trade them. He didn’t come out and say it, but the implication was clear — if the Indians were going to trade a pitcher this winter it should be Kluber, whose surplus value is reduced because he’ll make $17 million in 2019.
It was a statement that almost every GM would make — behind closed doors. To hear it from a player, speaking about a teammate, was rare.
To add fuel to the fire, later that same day Bauer, who lives to pitch and Tweet, told a Twitter troll who said he wasn’t in the same league as Kluber, “Plot twist, I was better than Kluber this year.”
Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 33 starts. He led the AL in innings pitched and finished third in the Cy Young voting.
Bauer was on track to challenge for the Cy Young, but took a line drive off his right leg on Aug. 12 and suffered a stress fracture. He ended the season at 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts in 175 1/3 innings.
No doubt Bauer believes he had a better year than Kluber. But it’s hard to say if there was ill will behind his Tweet because in the same Hot Stove interview he said that the Indians should trade him going into 2020 because his “surplus value’ would not be as high as it is this year. Bauer added that the Indians probably couldn’t afford to sign him — even to a one-year deal — to keep him out of the free-agent market.
The Indians are expected to trade Kluber or Bauer this winter. That is especially true if they are able to sign Carrasco to a contract extension.
If that happens, it will not be because of the relationship between the two pitchers. When a team has talent like Kluber and Bauer, a manager and organization does its best to keep them happy or at least in separate corners.
No, if the Indians trade Kluber or Bauer it will be because they need to fill holes on the current big-league club to help them win a fourth straight AL Central title and return to the postseason. If that happens, depending on who goes and who stays, the Indians’ locker room could be a lot duller place.