For the last few years we’ve heard Trevor Bauer talk about his future in free agency and how he planned on taking 1-year deals only, picking situations that best fit what he was personally looking for each season when it comes to playing for a contender and finding a team that would allow him to possibly pitch how he wanted (every four days, for example). But over the weekend his agent, Rachel Luba, clarified a lot of that, noting that Bauer is open to and will be considering all types of deals – not just as previously mentioned 1-year deals.
As a free agent, Trevor Bauer should absolutely go out and see what is there for him. It takes a player far too long to have a say in where they can play in their career, so when you do get that opportunity, take it and see what’s out there. With “all types of deals” being on the table now, how does that alter what the Cincinnati Reds can potentially bring back the right-handed starter?
Well, Cincinnati almost assuredly isn’t going to be in the market for offering Trevor Bauer, or any other pitcher, a long-term and high dollar contract. It’s tough to imagine the Reds offering a deal that’s into the hundred+ million dollar range – though Bauer is certainly deserving of all of that – it’s just that the Reds probably aren’t in the position to make that kind of deal.
Where the Reds could be more likely to get something done is on a short term, but high dollar deal. That would require ownership to step in and make the money available, which it seems may not yet be decided upon.
“We’re trying to figure out where we are from a budget standpoint, what we can do, how we can maximize the budget we have going into next year,” said General Manager Nick Krall. “This offseason is going to be a little bit of an uncertain one and we’re just trying to figure out where we are and what we can do. ”
The uncertainty is probably going to be there for smaller market teams a bit more than larger market teams who rely less on ticket and in-person type revenues than larger market teams with better multimedia deals. That works against a team like Cincinnati in a much bigger way than it would a team like the Cubs or Angels or Yankees or Dodgers. Making a long term commitment is easier to handle when you know that your television deal can basically cover your payroll before you sell a ticket. When you need to sell the tickets to make payroll, it introduces a lot less certainty.
The Reds would obviously prefer to get Trevor Bauer back into a Reds uniform in 2021. Nick Krall said as much on Monday afternoon, but with a qualifier.
“Now look, do you want have a Trevor Bauer back? Of course you do,” said Krall. “He’s at the front end of the rotation and in my opinion should win the Cy Young this year. You’d love to try and get him back if there’s any way possible.”
If there’s any way possible is doing a lot of work in that statement. It was probably a long shot that the Reds were going to be able to re-sign Trevor Bauer. But then 2020 happened. And that can be taken in a lot of ways, too. Bauer went out and had the season of his life, raising the cost to acquire his services in the process. There, of course, is all that is happening in the world, too – which led to no fans in the stands and lesser revenue for teams across baseball. That, as noted above, likely means that Cincinnati is going to feel the ramifications of that a little more than some others.
With a long term deal on the table, Cincinnati may need to get creative. Trevor Bauer has long spoken of his desire to pitch every four days instead of every five days. Perhaps that is something that they could use to entice him to return for a little less money. Maybe his time in Cincinnati with Derek Johnson being a like-minded pitching coach, having Driveline ties all around – it’s a selling point of sorts. Going into sell-mode on those things may be the best chance the Reds have at bringing Bauer back in any capacity. Money alone probably won’t get it done because fair or unfair, Cincinnati just isn’t going to be able to match up with what other teams can offer there in just about any reasonable case.