The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a Division Series of their own after clubbing their way over division foe Colorado in the National League Wild Card matchup, but Arizona’s reach extends over to the American League as well in this 2017 postseason. In particular, a 2012 3-team trade that involved the D-Backs has a great impact on a series in the opposite league.
The Cleveland Indians defeated the New York Yankees on Thursday to capture game one of the highly anticipated series.
The Indians got an absolute gem from surprising game one starter Trevor Bauer. Bauer, of course, was a can’t-miss prospect coming out of the 2011 MLB Draft. Selected third overall by Arizona, the UCLA pitcher (whose college teammate Gerrit Cole was selected first by Pittsburgh) was an enigmatic but talented project.
Bauer had the makings of a number one, but also came with some unique baggage. His peculiar pre-game routine was an unexpected source of frustration in the D-Backs organization. He wasn’t changing. He would still drone away.
Arizona shipped him off after a year and a half with the team. Dealing top draft picks has become a sort of unsettling theme in the dry heat of Zona. There’s Bauer (drafted third overall in 2011, traded in 2012), Justin Upton (drafted first overall in 2005, traded in 2013) and most recently Dansby Swanson (drafted first overall in 2015 and traded the same year). But that’s not what we’re here for.
A 3-team, 9-player trade headlined by veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, not keen to be a part of a rebuilding job in Cleveland, saw Choo make the short trip to Cincinnati to play with the Reds.
Among the other eight players involved, Bauer went from Arizona to Cleveland and recently debuted shortstop Didi Gregorius trekked from Cincy to Arizona.
Of course, Gregorius was dealt once again almost exactly two years later. This time to the Yankees in another 3-teamer that netted Arizona pitcher Robbie Ray. (The Tigers were also involved and acquired Shane Greene.)
Fast forward to 2017, almost five years from that fateful deal and it’s become quite the high impact transaction. Bauer started game one and absolutely dominated the Yankees with his power curveball, allowing just two hits and striking out eight in 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
As you may have heard, Cleveland won 22 straight games from August 24th to September 14th and at the heart of the American League record streak was pitching, pitching and more pitching. Bauer was at the forefront of this.
Dating back to his first start after the All-Star break on July 21st, the 26-year old went 10-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 83 innings.
After his drone fiasco in the 2016 postseason and a tumultuous first half, it’s safe to say he’s back in the Tribe’s good graces.
Across to the other dugout, if the Yankees prevail over the favorite Indians, a big part of that equation will be Sir Didi. In two seasons before becoming a Yankee, Gregorius hit .241 with 13 home runs.
His three seasons in the Bronx have produced a .276 average, 54 home runs and 213 RBI. This season he was all-star caliber, slashing .287/.318/.478 while clubbing 25 home runs, driving in 87 and handling shortstop as well as anyone in the game.
It’s been a bit of a revelation, his elite status in New York in the wake of Derek Jeter’s retirement. I suppose it’s no surprise when you’re a (Jedi?) Knight.
Whoever wins this series, there’s no doubt about the significance of a 2012 trade that largely came to fruition because of Choo, not Bauer or Gregorius.