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Indians, D-backs talk Asdrubal-for-Bauer swap

Indians, D-backs talk Asdrubal-for-Bauer swap

Indians, D-backs talk Asdrubal-for-Bauer swap
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Indians and D-backs have discussed the framework of a deal that centers around Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Arizona right-hander Trevor Bauer, an industry source said early Wednesday.

The two clubs have been in talks about the potential deal for two weeks, and it appears those talks have escalated at the Winter Meetings, though the source did not say whether a deal is near completion.

If the trade comes to fruition, it would fulfill an obvious need for each side. In a thin free-agent shortstop market, Cabrera, a two-time All-Star, is an attractive trade option. And for an Indians club potentially in a rebuild-type situation, a young pitcher with upside like Bauer would fit the framework.

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Cabrera, 27, hit .270 with a .762 OPS, 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 143 games last season. His OPS ranked fourth among all Major League shortstops, trailing only the Nationals' Ian Desmond (.845), the Yankees' Derek Jeter (.791) and the Marlins' Jose Reyes (.765). But Cabrera's production was actually a dip from his career year in 2011, when he belted 25 homers and drove in 92 runs.

Though the D-backs acquired Cliff Pennington from the A's early in the offseason, they have been in the hunt for more of an everyday shortstop. They have been linked to the likes of Jurickson Profar and Andrelton Simmons -- the young commodities possessed by the Rangers and Braves, respectively -- in the Justin Upton rumor mill. But the Cabrera discussions seem to have reached a more substantive stage.

ESPN.com reported Tuesday night that the D-backs-Indians talks could involve as many as two other teams, and FoxSports.com reported that the Indians are interested in Arizona left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who made his Major League debut in August and went 1-3 with a 5.83 ERA in six starts.

But the industry source confirmed that Bauer has been a key piece in the Cabrera discussions. The 21-year-old Bauer was the third overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four Major League starts this past season, and he went a combined 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 11.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio in 22 starts for Triple-A Reno and Double-A Mobile.

Bauer has attracted particular attention with his unique workout and warmup routines, to say nothing of his moonlighting as a would-be rapper. ESPN.com has reported that Bauer has "fallen out of favor with some people in the [D-backs] organization." But because of his deep arsenal of pitches and strikeout ability, his ceiling is generally considered to be high. And for an Indians team that has struggled to draft and develop impact pitchers, he could be an intriguing addition.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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