Making their pitch: Could Twins have their sights set on Trevor Bauer?

MINNEAPOLIS — Could the Twins turn to an American League Central rival to bolster their starting pitching staff as the July 31 trade deadline nears? Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network and The Athletic thinks that could be the case.

In his Wednesday notes column in The Athletic (subscription), Rosenthal writes that Cleveland righthander Trevor Bauer would make sense for the Twins and bolsters the case by pointing out sources confirm that the Indians would not rule out trading Bauer within the division if they decide to become sellers.

The Twins entered their game Wednesday night against visiting Seattle with an 11-game lead over Cleveland in the American League Central after the Indians lost 7-2 to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon. The Indians (34-33), however, were only two games out of the second wild card spot in the AL.

There might be some who think the Indians wouldn’t want to do business with the Twins, or vice versa, because they are division rivals, but Rosenthal points out that is no longer considered to be a problem for many teams. The goal now has become getting the best possible package in return. Remember, Cleveland acquired center fielder Leonys Martin from Detroit last year at the trade deadline.

So why would the Twins be the team to give the Indians the best return for Bauer? It might help the Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey was hired away from Cleveland and is close with the pitcher. The Twins would want Bauer to bolster their rotation in the playoffs. Bauer has pitched in five postseason series with Cleveland and is 1-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 games and six starts.

Cleveland general manager Mike Chernoff almost certainly would be looking for a package of prospects for Bauer. The 28-year-old Bauer is making $13 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration after this season. The fact that Bauer’s price tag is sure to increase will give Cleveland even more incentive to get something for him now.

Last season, Bauer went 12-6 with a career-low 2.21 earned-run average in 27 starts. He is 4-6 with a 3.71 ERA in 15 starts this season. Bauer had gone 0-5 with a 5.52 ERA in seven starts before Tuesday, but gave up only one run and six hits while striking out six in 7.2 innings in a no-decision in Cleveland’s 2-1 victory over the Reds. Bauer walked five in the game and led all of baseball entering Wednesday with 45 walks.

So will Falvey be willing to pay the price to get Bauer near the top of a rotation with Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi? Rosenthal likely wouldn’t have thrown out the possibility unless he thought there was a good possibility the answer was yes.