The 2020 playoffs have been some of the most exciting games in recent years for baseball. One of the more intriguing series of the wildcard round was the Reds against the Braves. An absolutely grueling series consisted of two low scoring affairs, and the Braves won both to move on. The first game of the series, a pitcher’s duel between Max Fried and Trevor Bauer, went 12 innings without a run until the Braves finally walked it off in the thirteenth. Bauer specifically was impressive in that first game, throwing seven and two-thirds of 2 hit, shutout baseball. He also fanned 12 Braves out of 25 hitters. Bauer’s impressive start was a good representation of his 2020 season, where many expect him to win Cy Young. Despite a 1.73 ERA and 12.3 K/9, Bauer’s most important stat is his contract.
After acquiring Bauer in a three-team trade, the Reds got one season out of the hard-throwing righty. 2020 was the last season on his contract, and most expect to see Bauer in a new uniform come 2021. Bauer expects an impressive pay day in his next contract, so who are the best suitors? Is there any chance the Reds win the Trevor Bauer free agency sweepstakes?
A Reds’ Reunion
The Reds became the first team in MLB history to not score a single run in a postseason series against Atlanta. That is just a small glimpse of the lackluster offense that Cincinnati has seen all season. The Reds ranked third worst in runs per game this season, and that is a concern for Bauer. Despite his 1.73 ERA, Bauer still went 5-4 because of the lack of run production. Bauer has expressed his displeasure with the offense multiple times on his YouTube Channel. This does not come as a surprise, as fans know Bauer to not be afraid to speak his mind. The Reds may be able to afford Bauer if they are willing to make a few moves to free up the money needed to sign the superstar, who has been quoted in saying he plans on signing one year deals for the rest of his career.
Most players like to have the security of being locked into a long-term deal, but not Bauer. The former Indian does have good reasoning, as he “wants to be on a contender.” (Red Leg Nation) A one-year contract might also be the best way to maximize profits, and Bauer’s contract could push 40 million. The Reds could make it work, but I think their lack of success this postseason puts them at too much of a disadvantage to beat other teams in the Trevor Bauer free agency competition.
Test the Market
Because of the lack of success this season, Bauer may be more likely to see what other teams are interested. The 2018 all-star is wanting to get paid, but also find a spot where he can be a contender. One other desire Bauer has mentioned is pitching every four days, not every five. Most teams will not be willing to accommodate this request, but there may be one suitor who will. Here are the teams in perfect positions for the Trevor Bauer free agency race:
The Angels may be the perfect landing spot for the California native. The signing would be a mutual improvement to both sides’ situations. Bauer would be able to join an offense who was ninth in the league in scoring, while the Angels gather a superstar pitcher who can help them jolt their pitching staff, who was the fourth worst in the MLB last season. (Baseball Reference)The Angels desperately need to find success while they are in the middle of Trout’s prime. Pitching is their biggest hole, and they need to pick up Bauer if they want immediate improvement. Andrelton Simmons and Julio Tehran are on expiring deals, so the money situation could work for Los Angeles. Bauer wouldn’t single handedly fix the pitching problems, but he could renovate the situation in Anaheim.
If there is any manager in baseball who is willing to change traditional pitching rotations, it’s Kevin Cash. Even if Cash doesn’t want to change the five-man rotation, Tampa still could be a good fit. As we can tell from this season, the Rays have the talent to be an elite team. Bauer will like this, and if the Rays can have Bauer, Glasnow, and Snell, then things might get crazy. The 36-year-old Charlie Morton will be a free agent this year, which will help clear up some money. The Rays do have the lowest payroll in baseball, so Bauer may be one of the few that the front office is willing to shell out for.
The Braves just took down Bauer’s Reds in the wildcard series, and on Twitter he shut down any thoughts of a move to Atlanta. However, the Braves could clear a lot of money this offseason. Cole Hamels, Mark Melancon, Tyler Flowers, and Nick Markakis are all free agents this season. Their four contracts total up to about 40 million, which is enough to enter the Trevor Bauer free agency competition. The 2018 all-star will be able to join a contender and instantly improve an already solid staff. Adding the 2020 NL ERA leader will immediately put the Braves on the same level as the Dodgers. The Braves can make the money, and Bauer has mentioned on his YouTube that he loves Truist Park. Atlanta would be scary with Bauer, and the most exciting pitcher in baseball probably likes that.
The Trevor Bauer free agency market is truly going to be one of the biggest stories of the offseason. Bauer is not only a fantastic pitcher, but also an enticing one, as he is beloved by many fans. If Bauer can continue his success into next year, the team he chooses will benefit greatly. After researching the Reds starter and checking out his YouTube, I was heavily impressed with his dedication and discipline to routine. He expects greatness out of himself, and therefore I find it unlikely that his production will drop. The flamethrower is fun to watch, and I expect him to drag out this contract bidding. He truly could go anywhere, and he says he is keeping all offers in mind. It will be very difficult to predict where he will go, but these teams are his best fits!