When the Cincinnati Reds traded for right-handed starting pitcher Trevor Bauer one of the concerns that came up was that he was only under contract through the 2020 season. Some were wondering aloud whether or not the team could sign him to an extension – but those who had paid attention to the Trevor Bauer show (love it or hate it) over the years already knew the answer. Most of Cincinnati found out that answer on Monday when the local media asked about it.

“I do intend to sign one year contracts for my entire career,” Bauer said when asked if he could see himself in Cincinnati long-term. “I’m not against signing with the same team by any means. The reasoning behind that is that I want to be on a contender.”

This is something that Trevor Bauer has stated publicly before. It’s not new, or surprising to those who have followed along for the ride. But for many Reds fans, this may be news. Cincinnati’s front office knew this before they made the trade. And with that information they also knew and understood that if they want to keep him around beyond his current deal that they can. Maybe.

But if the Reds have any real hopes of keeping Trevor Bauer around beyond 2020 the first thing they must do is surround him with more talent. And they certainly seem like they are trying. The rotation, as it stands right now, is as strong as it’s been in nearly a decade. Luis Castillo showed all that he was capable of last night as he dominated the Angels in a win. Sonny Gray was an All-Star this season and he’s pitching well. Bauer is an above-average starter. Anthony DeSclafani’s been slightly above-average this year. Alex Wood is around for now, but he’s a free agent following this season. But overall, the rotation looks to be in fairly good shape moving forward even if the front office should plan on adding some arms to it.

The offense/defense is where things get a little more dicey for the Reds. Right now they seem to be taking a look at a few options at a few positions. Guys like Josh VanMeter, Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin – they’re getting some looks. Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto, Nick Senzel – they are your every day three. Jesse Winker will probably play most days, but it’s pretty clear he’s not going to see action if a left-hander is on the mound. Behind the plate the team has several options when everyone is healthy. But it seems that everyone agrees – the Reds offense needs another reliable bat that they can put in the middle of the order. This season they hoped it was Yasiel Puig. But his slow start, along with that of nearly the entire team, didn’t let that come to fruition until it was too late.

That sort of begs the question, though. Will the Reds be willing to spend the money to acquire the kind of bat it seems everyone thinks they need to get the lineup where it needs to be? And if they are, and it does what they hope, will they be able to also afford to keep Trevor Bauer around, even if he wants to come back?

There hasn’t really been a guy out there willing to take the 1-year offer that’s been as good as Bauer has. It kind of makes him a bit of a unicorn. He might not be worth that $30M a year pricetag if you have to sign up for that price for 5 years. But what if you only have to commit to that price for 1 year? It changes the entire risk dynamic for the team. Maybe the number isn’t $30M. But even if it’s only $20M, will the Reds have that kind of money to spend? Or maybe the better question is will they be willing to spend that money?

Being able to keep Trevor Bauer around beyond 2020 isn’t just a one step plan. The team has to win, and they have to be positioned to win in 2021, too. But to get to that 2021 phase, they are likely going to have to spend a whole lot of money. More than they’ve ever spent before – and probably by quite a bit. Time will tell if they are willing to do that or not, but this offseason could very well give us an indication. If they go out and add a bat for the middle of the order we may be able to dream a little bit more about the organization keeping a guy like Trevor Bauer around and in the rotation for 2021. But if they stick with what they have, or only make smaller moves, maybe that’s telling a little bit of a different story.

Photo of Trevor Bauer by Erik Drost. It was slightly modified to fit the site. You can see the license for the photo here.

23 Responses

  1. Westfester

    This is a win-win for the Reds. If Bauer wants to gamble on his future with one year deals, then I’m all for it. He would have to maintain immaculate health in order for him to cash in. Otherwise, there’s very little risk for the Reds to offer him one year deals. If he gets hurt, offer him a low ball amount or just cut bait. Then, just reallocate the money to someone else.

    • Eric

      Right! Nothing wrong with a guy, however mercurial, who wants to compete at the highest level of the highest level of his chosen profession. That would include not wanting to be “that guy” who, although often injured, is due…oh, I dunno…a $28M payday at the end of a contract that never should have been offered, and ends up dragging the entire pitching staff — and perhaps the entire team — down with him.

    • Matt WI

      However, what’s good for the goose… while maybe not all teams are set up to take on a one year at a time gamble, there are probably several who see the situation the same way for themselves and will be competing for these admittedly “low risk” one year deal for Bauer.

      • Mark

        I would love to see the Reds sign Iglesias for their shortstop, then their infield is set.If you look at the Cardinals, Brewers, and Cubs
        lineups, we need another veteran power bat in the outfield, can’t put stock in the minor league guys just yet,but Erwin should definitely be on the 25 man roster for next season. We can live with our catchers, need to over haul the bullpen.
        Personally, I don’t see Wood signing with the Reds.Also,the Reds basically unloaded Bailey big salary with the Dodger trade, and did not commit major dollars for this year payroll. They will have money to spend, the seats are empty at GABP,so spend the dollars and put butts in the seats.Also,there should be some creative thinking on how to create more income for this small market, not just picking up a few guys off the recycle pile to hope for a miracle. I do commend what
        Mr.Williams and Mr.Krall have done,ownership needs to do more on the money side. I think Mr.Castellini wants to win,find the bucks and get it done,we all are not getting any younger.

  2. B-town fan

    Don’t know about Bauer, you can’t really plan your future team around him, but the second point you touched on Doug. I don’t know if it’s so much a question money but talent. I haven’t looked at the other positions, but the outfielder free agent bats for the up coming off season aren’t very impressive, and if your going to get that impact bat you might have to trade for it. Then how far do you do you want to dig into the farm system. Then the real question is, what franchise do you want to be, Kansas City or St Louis, I think I know my answer.

  3. Jeff

    Alex Wood right now would be the biggest concern in my mind. Lefty starter who has great stuff. Would have to keep Farmer too, which would be a no brainer. Utility player who is a very good catcher. Get Wood to stay and your rotation front 4 ate Castillo, Gray, Bauer, and Wood. I’d put that 4 against any National League team top 4 anytime.

  4. David

    The Reds greatest needs at this time (IMHO) are in the bullpen.
    Beyond Lorenzen and Garrett, just what do the Reds have down there going into 2020?

    Hernandez and Jared Hughes leave after this season (unless re-signed).
    That’s two spots.
    Wandy Peralta has always been kind of iffy. Has some talent, but cannot seem to always bring the location.
    That’s three spots.
    Is Lucas Sims for real?
    And what about Rasiel Iglesias, who has had a rather disapointing season, to say the least.
    Stephenson has been on and off. Who is the real Bob Stephenson.
    Four or five spots, depending on how you shake it out.

    Five new and better relievers.

    With the coming rule changes, I think the Reds need at least THREE (count them, three!) Left handed relievers. We were alll hoping on Cody Reed, but he’s been hurt. The eternal queston mark, Brandon Finnegan too.

    With the arrival of Van Meter, Aquino, Senzel, Ervin…I don’t think that long term the Reds had a big offensive problem, although Joey Votto is clearly in decline. The biggest question mark is a good hitting catcher. I would be happy with Jose Iglesias coming back at SS next year. We don’t need a reincarnation of Johnny Bench, but somebody that can hit .260-270 with some power.

    • JB

      Would like the Reds to talk to Cleveland about Lindor this winter. Maybe Suarez and prospect …. then you could move Senzel to 3rd and Van Meter at 2nd.

    • Ty Madison

      Hernandaz should be gone already. Iglesias has not performed well this year like he should but he is under contract. I would go get Chapman back put Iglesias in short relief. Peralta was good for last 2 years, might have been a bad year this year. I have liked Sims this year. Lorenzen and Garrett have been solid this year.

      I love our starters, and I would resign Wood and give Castillo a new contract asap. Give the extra money to Chapman, Wood , Castillo. Let the youngsters play the field. You have to get to the playoffs, but PITCHING wins in the playoffs.

      Also, PLEASE DO NOT DRAFT ANYMORE HIGH SCHOOL Pitchers. Brenden McKay is pitching in Majors and also the RH pitcher from Vanderbilt was also avaliable when we selected Hunter Greene (who will never see the major leagues). College pitchers are way more advanced than High Schoolers.

  5. Eric

    Exactly.

    The titles brought by the Big Red Machine happened when I was four and five years old. The wire-to-wire regular season and World Series sweep of the A’s occurred before I reached legal drinking age.

    I’m 48. Still waiting on my beloved Reds to get back to the top.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      Im 32 and have never seen (remember) a Cincinnati pro sports team advance in the playoffs. 32 years.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      Im 32 and have never seen (remember) a Cincinnati pro sports team advance in the playoffs. 32 years. Im not even sure what the odds of that happening are, but it’s gotta be close to impossible.

  6. jazzmanbbfan

    Is vanMeter capable of being that everyday second baseman?

  7. JoshG

    I don’t see Dickerson as being much of (if any) an upgrade on Winker, Ervin, Vanmeter, Aquino

  8. Don

    It is a shame more players do not have the attitude that I do not want to have a long term commitment and want to prove myself every year.

    I would of team of them every year. Every player playing hard every play every game as their next paycheck will be determined by there current actions.

    No more I am playing hard this year as it is a contract year as very year is a contract year.

    Long term guaranteed contracts is what has made for such an imbalance and lack of a lot of competitive teams in baseball. High revenue teams can eat the contact and keep going, lower revenue teams are stuck.

    • Matt WI

      Players had a pretty bad shake with that philosophy in the old days. I remember reading “Big Red Machine” by Joe Posnanski and the ridiculous negotiations that went on each season for a player like Pete Rose under Bob Howsam. Every year is an arbitration? Bah.

      It’s great in theory, but not really in the players’ best interest, except for the great rookies that might outperform their first 3 years.

  9. Jeff Gangloff

    I’ll believe Bauer wants to sign one years deals the day he turns down a 5 year $100 million offer.

    It’s easy to say that kind of stuff now, but when you have a pile of money thrown at you – things can change real fast.

  10. Don

    I guess Krall meant we will see how JVM can pinch hit once a game and start once every 4 games. Not see what he can do every day.

    Any time Jose Iglesias is batting 5th the team he is on it not even an average offensive team.

    He is a marginal 7th to 8th place hitter as he is mostly field, sometimes hit.

  11. wizeman

    As they say…”money talks… the rest walks”
    To me… signing wood to an extension is more important.

  12. wizeman

    thought it would be hernandez also

  13. David

    We all wish Homer Bailey said this and the Reds had him on one-year, high salary contracts. Any player can become worthless fairly quickly, but pitchers particularly so.

  14. Bromleyjake

    One of the reasons I thought you had to try to keep Puig was because this seems to be a pretty weak FA group this offseason. I’m not sure they will be able to find, much less sign a better player than Puig in FA

    • Bromleyjake

      I worry about the strikeout potential but he is certainly an exciting young player. If he bats even 250 the power and arm should play.