Before the Cincinnati Reds acquired right-handed starting pitcher Trevor Bauer from Cleveland at the trade deadline in 2019, it was already known that he was planning to sign 1-year contracts every season moving forward. He was on the record with that fact. Things haven’t changed since his arrival in a new organization. Bauer explained his reasoning behind the idea on his youtube channel late on Monday night. For the Reds, this is kind of a big deal.

Update: the video has been made “private” and is no longer available. But since I began writing this on Monday night, I had already transcribed a few quotes from the video.

“I want to be able to be happy playing the game that I love. So I want to end up in situations that make me happy and make me fulfilled. That can be situations like the Reds have, where there’s just a really great group of people that just make me fulfilled as a person,” said Bauer.

If the quote stopped there it would be great news to the organization, and probably to many fans who would like to see him stick around in the rotation for a while longer. But the quote didn’t end there.

“That can be situations like jumping into a team that’s going to go on a playoff run and hopefully win a World Series. That can be a team that would let me pitch every 4th day or treats me with respect in a way that no other team has. Or whatever the case is – there’s certain things that are more important to me than money. And I want to be able to control where I play and when and the situations I’m in so that as I change too, and things become more important to me, or less important to me as I evolve that I can tailor fit my situation to reflect that.”

Winning certainly seems important to Bauer, as it is for nearly every high-level athlete. “I want to be on a contender every year because I love competing at the highest level and the highest level is the World Series,” he said. “So I want to have a chance to go to the World Series every single year. And the way baseball is currently structured, there’s not many teams that go into spring training trying to win the World Series that year.”

When it comes to the Reds, this could certainly be a real interesting situation. Cincinnati hasn’t won in a long time. But the approach of not exactly trying to really win stopped in the winter of 2018. While the 2019 season didn’t go as planned, a healthy squad that would have included Alex Wood and Scooter Gennett, along with a normal-performing Yasiel Puig would have made for a very different looking squad in the first half of the season. But things just didn’t work out that way. Wood and Gennett did get injured, and Puig didn’t perform like himself.

Undeterred, the Cincinnati front office went out at the deadline and acquired Trevor Bauer despite being out of the race in July. In the offseason they went out and spent money like they had never done before on the free agent market. Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama came first. Then the Reds went out and picked up Nick Castellanos and Wade Miley. The offseason may not have gone exactly as everyone had hoped (where are you Francisco Lindor?), but it went well. And those improvements led to the Reds being the favorite to win the division by multiple projection systems and baseball writers around the sports landscape.

We still don’t know if we’re going to even see baseball in 2020. The teams hope we do. The fans hope we do. And the players do. For the Reds and Trevor Bauer, it could potentially mean that his 10 starts last year could have been the last ones for Cincinnati. He seems to like the people with the Reds, as he noted above. But it’s tougher to sell someone on Cincinnati being a true World Series contender if they don’t get out on the field in 2020 and show that their new additions made a real difference. It kind of puts both sides in a bit of a strange spot.

For the Reds, they have to try and convince Trevor Bauer to return in 2021. To do that they need to sell him on the idea that they are a true contender. While you can point to pairing him back with the rotation featuring Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, and you can point to Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez at the plate (and perhaps Nick Castellanos, too, if he doesn’t opt out). But you’re asking for faith more than some other teams that can point to 90+ wins with most of their team returning, too. The Reds could use baseball being played to show that, “hey we are the real deal” and use it as more of a selling point than just “we think we can be the real deal”.

Photo of Trevor Bauer by Erik Drost. Photo has been edited. License can be found here.

15 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    If he goes, he goes.

    Do we really care all that much that a guy who is unabashedly “looking out for #1” follows his dream to another team?

    Still stinks that he can’t be pitching for the Reds right now. Pandemics and all…

    • MK

      Not sure I want a player not looking out for #1. That does not mean the team will not flourish and he won’t be a good team player as well. If he is driven to be successful for himself that is going to be success for the team as well.

  2. Steve Schoenbaechler

    He says there other things more important than money. I wonder if, after a season where no one comes calling, if he would sign for a pay cut?

    • JB

      If the team is playoff worthy I’m sure he would. If it’s the Marlins willing to give him 20 mil a year over the Yanks giving 10 mil , he will take the Yanks. I dont know about you but I only played on one losing team my whole life and it was the longest season ever. I cant blame him here. He basically is saying he has made enough money and he wants the chance to win. As a competitive player in any sports isnt that your goal to win it all?

  3. JB

    He doesnt care about the money. He wants to play on a competitive team that goes to the playoffs. Basically he is saying he has enough money and he wants to be on a team with a winning culture. I’ll take that .

  4. Doc

    I wish there were more like him, that is, people who realize that above a certain amount, additional money does not permit you to do any more, or get any more enjoyment out of life.

  5. Sonny

    What makes you think the reds would want a career 70 and 60 pitcher with an over 4 era who runs his mouth a lot? I am fine with one year contract in case he turns out to be overpaid which i think will be the case

    • Doug Gray

      What makes you think they wouldn’t?

      • Hobbs

        I wish him all the best. He’s going to have to pitch a lot better than he did in the second half of 2019 to be able to do what he wants to do. If but his one year contracts may be more driven by those willing to take a chance on him. If that’s the case the Reds will surely always be a possibility, we seem to love taking chances on guys hoping they rebound to former glory.

      • Doug Gray

        Yes, he’ll have to pitch much better than he did in his 10 starts with the Reds. But that’s a small fraction of his career that shows he’s significantly better than that.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Yu Darvish was scheduled to make $22 million this year with a career 53-43 record so there’s a good chance if he pitched decently, the Reds would be very interested. And what does “runs his mouth a lot” got to do with it? I like someone with a little fire in his belly and an opinion vs. someone who just spouts “coach speak” or “player speak” cliche’s.

  6. Don

    Listen to about 5 minutes of the Jim Day podcast with Joey Votto starting at time stamp about 35 minutes from just before Spring Training starting

    my summary: The Reds have not had enough profession players whom are mercenaries whom keep themselves accountable for their own performance and the addition of these types of players is what has him excited about the potential for the team.

    This statement alone makes me believe that what Bauer is saying is the type of player which Votto believes is needed to win again.

    That is good enough for me and should close the books on if the Bauer attitude is wanted in the club house.

    The talk about 2020 predictions starting at about the one hour mark for the next 10 to 15 minutes is very interesting as well.

  7. Redgoggles

    Bauer reminds me a bit of Homer Bailey; talented (when healthy), prickly and a bit too me first for my taste (although he has every right to be.) I just hope he gets a chance this year to give my favorite team some return on their investment regardless of what he chooses to do after 2020. It’s becoming more clear why the Indians were willing to move him.

  8. Larry

    You have to take the good and bad with Trevor Bauer. The good far exceeds the bad. Look at his record in recent years and that’s what you get. He could be a solid #2 starter on most rosters in MLB. He was an excellent mentor to other pitchers on the Indians which is often overlooked because he is quirky and outspoken.

  9. Kenny G

    I think you’re missing the point. It’s not about the money. He has more money than he needs for his and likely the life of his kids yet to be born. He wants the opportunity to succeed.

    If he can consistently perform at a top level I don’t think he’ll have too much of an issue signing on to contenders every season as long as his ego doesn’t dictate his salary. The only limiting factors will be his performance and health if, as he contends, it’s not about the money. Time will tell.