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.

53 Responses

  1. Bred

    As much as I enjoy watching him pitch, following him on his social media platforms, and as helpful as he is to young pitchers as stated by Antone, a long term deal for 100 to 200 million dollars is something the Reds should not do. His best season ever was only 11 starts and he missed at least one start for some reason. I think a lot of teams will be uninterested because of his quirky personality, and his social media activities. The Reds let him be him, and he said playing for the Reds was the most fun he ever had playing baseball, so he might be will to take less to play for the Reds. The problem is even if they could sign him for one or 2 years where would the money come to fix SS and other holes?

  2. Pablo

    Would love to have him back too but is he going to expect a Gerrit Cole-type contract?

  3. Klugo

    Look, it’s been an absolute joy watching Bauer. He is one of the best. However, the one area where the Reds seem to be in pretty good shape is SP. Castillo, Gray,Miley, Mahle is a very good 4. Then throw in the SP potential of Antone, or Lorenzen, or even Raisel Iglesias( is too late to consider him as a starter? He has all the stuff). I think that Bauer money could probably be better spent elsewhere. Would I be upset if we signed him? No. Would I question that move if our offense holds us back again next season? Yes.

    • Doc

      After watching what the Braves accomplished, perhaps Greene and Lodolo should be names routinely mentioned When discussing starting pitchers.

      Bauer was great in 2020 short season. I would not break the bank based on one outstanding third of a season. If you sign him to a big deal for 3-4 years, its quite possible you will get what he has given the last 3-4 years.

  4. Kevin Davis

    I thought his comments on social media during the playoff game were telling. Comments about Votto not scoring when he should have. I just dont see the Reds doing much to improve offense. You hope 2020 was a year where you can throw out the book. But we have another year of Votto not doing much, Suarez looking lost at times, and other dealing with injuries. You hope the Reds make a move at catcher (play Tyler more), and improve SS, but will it be enough to keep Trevor? Not sure what yhe finances are, but I could see Bauer in San Diego – young upcoming team, pitcher friendly park. Bauer may be the needed piece to get the closer to the Dodgers

    • Jim

      I agree on Votto not doing anything to help the team score. Last three years and unfortunately next year. 25,000,000 per year wasted.
      He was great for the team years ago but very bad for the team the last 3 years.

    • Rednat

      great comment. i noticed a tension between Votto and Bauer and i think that will be one of the reasons Bauer doesn’t stay. even if he wins the cy young this will still be “Joey’s team” and I am not sure Bauer can handle that for another year.

      Bauer plays with a reckless abandon and lets face it the reds have been a more “laid back team” for quite some time now. we don’t hustle, we don’t try to take extra bases. i have to imagine this just tore up a player like Bauer emotionally and it was reflected in his social media.

  5. LDS

    Want offense? Start with a new management staff. Change your analytics focus.
    Have a frank conversation with Votto. Tell him he’s likely going to see a lot more bench time. Help him realize that retiring with dignity is a better course. I hate watching formerly great athletes overstay their welcome, e.g., Muhammad Ali. If Senzel can’t stay healthy? Trade him. If the DH isn’t continued, and I hope it isn’t, trade Winker. Shortstop? Catcher? Maybe it’s time to give the young guys their shot. What does it matter if you aren’t winning anyway?

    • Doc

      “If Senzel can’t stay healthy, trade him.”

      What is the trade market for a player who can’t stay healthy? Couple packs of cards, with gum?

      And if you trade him because he can’t stay healthy, and he becomes a star for another team while staying healthy, what would that say about the Reds medical staff?

    • jazzmanbbfan

      If I’m Votto my dignity can take a hit because I’m not leaving $82 million on the table ($25 mil for 3 years plus $7 mil buyout for ’24).

  6. Mark Moore

    Big one-year deal … maybe. But those dollars would be hard to find in the FO from what we’ve seen.

    Multi-year deal … not for us as he’ll garner Cole type numbers and that’s too rich for all but a handful of clubs.

    Plus one pitcher every 4-5 starts isn’t the only thing we need. And don’t forget the uncertainty surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement and what baseball looks like after 2021 (whatever that ends up looking like).

    • Michael Smith


      I would even be willing to throw a massive two year deal at him. More than that and you are playing with fire with any pitcher.

      • Mark Moore

        Yes … 2 years would be the max for me if I ran the zoo

        And +1,000 for the “8 minutes” comment.

    • RojoBenjy

      How long would it take for average Reds fan to turn on him like they do on every big contract player on the team? (Eric Davis, Junior, Votto are the best examples).

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Large one-year or two-year deal. That minimizes the risk to the team if Bauer gets hurt or something else goes wrong. If some other team wants to go 20+ million for three or more years, Reds will probably pass. I absolutely loved watching Bauer pitch this year, and he was probably the most dominant Reds starter I have seen over a short period. But I would certainly understand the team’s position of not risking another Homer-Bailey-type contract situation.

  7. west larry

    I agree with M. Smith. A two year massive contract (with a player buy out option after one year) would allow for Bauer to continue to encourage the young pitchers as well as offer a chance of excellent pitching for the next couple o years.

  8. Charlie Waffles

    How do you pitch one guy every 4 days and then have 4 guys pitching every 5 days? A team would have to reset their rotation every home stand and road trip, and have to work around the off days. Maybe they could go 2 to 3 weeks before resetting. They would have to go 1-2-3-4-1-5-2-3-1-4-off day-5-1-2-3-4-1-5-off day-2-1-3-4-5-1.
    It is doable, but it will take some work. To get your best pitcher 40 starts would be amazing though in this day and age. That is a heavy workload. Just averaging 6 innings an outing gets you at 240 IP’s. Average 7 innings and you are at 280 IP’s. On average, that also gives your #2 and #3 starters 31 starts a season and the #4 and #5 starters 30 starts. That would be more starts for your best pitcher and fewer starts at the back end of the rotation. That would make some sense.
    The only knock on Bauer is his Home Runs allowed. Bauer has started 21 games as a Red in 2019 and 2020. Ten games at home in GABP and 11 games on the road. He has given up 9 HR’s in those 11 road games, and he has given up 12 HR’s in the 10 games at GABP. So, there does seem to be a little GABP influence in that.
    The 2020 season for Bauer shouldn’t be looked at as some outlier. He was pretty awesome in 2018 for Cleveland for a whole season there and made the All-Star team.
    There is a lot to think about and consider for the Reds front office when it comes to offering Bauer a high dollar, short term free agent deal. The Reds cannot go 4 years or higher, but a 2 year deal could make sense for both parties.

    • Doug Gray

      Yeah – it would certainly take some creativity to make a 4-day thing work with everyone else being on a 5-day thing. Perhaps you don’t let him go every 4 days, but you find spots throughout the year to make it happen a handful of times.

    • MBS

      Your 5th Starter would have to be a bullpen game. It still wouldn’t be simple or straight forward but it would give you more flexibility, while maintaining as consistent starts for your other 3 starters. To figure it out would be an intellectual exercise only, since signing Bauer is not going to happen. I like what we have for 2021 as options.

      1) Gray 2) Castillo 3) Mahle 4) Antone 5) Lorenzen 6) Miley 7) Lodolo 8) Santillan

      Sign Castillo, we have 3 arb years, see if we can tack on 2 more at a good deal for both parties, before the Arb process begins.

      Sign Lorenzen, we could sign him at a fairly inexpensive salary today, and convert him back to a starter. I think he would perform best in that role

      Any excess payroll could be used to strengthen the pen. Especially if Lorenzen and Antone are Starters

  9. Oldtimer

    Guessing he would command $100 M to $150 M over 3-5 year contract. Don’t know if Reds have that much to pay him but maybe so.

  10. Jon

    The Bauer situation is once again a reflection on the Reds drafting and development. Obviously Bauer is one of the top pitchers in the game and every team could use him and every team’s fans should want him. However, a “smart” organization like the Rays, Indians, or A’s wouldn’t even consider committing $35-plus million a season to one player. They’d have his replacement lined up and ready to go. While the Reds ***may*** have that with Lodolo or Greene, neither of them have reached AAA yet. Starting a season expecting to not only win the division, but get past the NLDS is challenging when your rotation may very well consist of (as of right now) Castillo, Gray, then a pick-3 of Mahle, Miley, Antone, Lorenzen, Greene, or Lodolo. It may work, but after the top two, there’s a major drop off, especially since those choices aren’t used to pitching every five days in a full 162-game season.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Your points are well-taken, and would jive with my position above that a one- or two-year megadeal would be the most years the Reds would go with Bauer.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        I don’t see Castellini opening the bank vault for anyone other than Bauer this off-season. They’re going to miss out on some really good assets, including the available shortstops.

      • LDS

        Castellini is nearing 80. Is there a transition plan or any prospects of a sale?

      • Mark Moore

        LDS – I suppose now is as good a time as any to disclose that I’m in active negotiations with Old Bob to purchase the Reds. When that goes through, y’all are getting jobs in the organization … well MOST of you are 🙂

  11. RedsGettingBetter

    Well , Reds were in the race for Wheeler last offseason and reportedly offering him a high dollar contract just slightly outperformed by Phillies so it coulbe possible make it for Bauer too

  12. Indydoug

    This was a .500 (barely) team with the best starter in MLB in 2020. Remove him….and what do the Reds have? Quite possibly another sub .500 team. Gonna be tough to sign him though.

    • Doc

      That starter was 5-4. Remove that and they were 26-25.

  13. SultanofSwaff

    I’d love to see Trevor on the team…………..Story. I think the SP will be fine given how many internal options we have. To that end, we need to explore extensions for Castillo, Mahle, and Lorenzen.

    The big money should be spent foolproofing the offense……..which is what we thought we were doing last season. My strategy would be to double down adding talent from outside the organization. Trading for the final controllable season of Story buys you one more year of development for Garcia while maintaining the win-now stance. The Rockies need help where we have surplus. Not that difficult to envision a package of India, Casali, and Vlad Gutierrez for example.

    • doofus

      The Reds should corner the baseball market of Trevors and Nicks.

  14. Jim

    Don’t care if we don’t sign Bauer!
    Quite simple – Rays total payroll 28 m
    They hit, pitch, hustle, run the bases, play excellent defense.
    The Reds have Votto at 25 m. And doesn’t do any of those things!!
    That contract has to go before the Reds come back!!

    • jazzmanbbfan

      So, you’re saying 2024 or 25? Contract for $25 mil for the next 3 years and 7 million dollar buyout in 2024.

  15. Russ S

    Agree that Trevor was a joy to watch pitch for the Reds. If he wins the Cy and doesn’t come back, the Reds organization should invite him back for a day (post COVID) so Reds’ fans can celebrate him. Seems to me that Trevor lauded his “fit” with the Reds, but that the organization really can’t (shouldn’t?) offer him a mega long term deal that would seriously handcuff the team’s ability to invest in multiple areas. If anything, it feels like the Angels are a (hypothetically) better fit for him in terms of their need for starting pitching behind their superstar offensive players, their ability to give Trevor the money he could command and give him the social media market (LA) that he may crave as he continues to seek to build a brand around himself. Plus, he’s from the SoCal area so that works in the Angels’ favor as well. I’d love to see him back in a Reds’ uniform next year, but I have to think that’s only going to happen if the current financial environment in baseball really leads to the big market teams not wanting to outlay the money to Trevor or deem he wouldn’t gel well with their team.

  16. JB

    I have a hard time paying a guy 25-35 million to play every 4th or 5th day. I would like to see the team use that money on position players. JMO

    • Doc

      Or using that money to lock up 3 or 4 pitchers for 3-5 years.

  17. DaveCT

    Someone mentioned above about this group lacking fire, aggressiveness, of being too mellow of a group. I think there’s some truth to that.

    Changing (or increasing this part of) the locker room then becomes a priority. Enter someone like Moose. Senzel too but he’s got a lot to prove. Sonny Gray, Amir, Sims. Or Bauer.

    In addition to the DJ, Boddy, Driveline points to market the team to Bauer, I’d offer to build the team in his image. Subtract those lacking fire, add more of those in his mold. Just break this group up (Votto exempt for obvious reasons). As much as I appreciate and root for Geno, Winker, Tucker, Casali, Galvis, Acquino, Blandino, Raisel, RStephenson, etc., retaining players of this personality doesn’t add up to winning.

    Realizing that the subtraction of relatively minor team costs via contracts/projected arbitration contract numbers still doesn’t add up to Bauer money, there is still work to do. I’d suggest approaching Votto with the opportunity to do a Griffey-esque contribution to team success by re-negotiating the final years of his deal with deferred money. Frankly, nothing short of a dramatic increase in dollars will retain Bauer but this is exactly the type of move that will bring more players like him here, as this just isn’t a quality destination for the majority of players hungry for success. By players I’m not only thinking free agents such as Didi or Realmuto. That alone would still be financially Impossible if not unwise, compared to the mega teams. But premier Latino amateur players, etc., might find the idea of playing in Cincinnati a better idea than previously. Luis Robert comes to mind.

    Something has to change. I’ve concluded the culture does not produce winning. Bauer would add a lot to reversing that. Raise the kids like TyStephenson, Garcia, Greene, Lodolo, India, In that environment, not this current one.

    • Jimbo44CN

      I agree that this team lacks a certain intensity, but I think that attitude starts from the top, not from one pitcher, good as he is. Bell is Mr. Monotone and how he inspires anyone to do anything is beyond me. Also, you are talking about giving up all of those guys for what? Who would you trade them for, another Goodwin, Davidson?Realistically speaking that is some kind of litmus test that I would not begin to know how to judge, and most teams would want to hang onto those guys with fire in their belly if they were any good.

      • DaveCT

        I’d suggest trading any/all for fair value assets. IE, Geno for an infield starter — and don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Geno fan.

        Agreed Also on intensity starting from the top. Signing Bauer would indicate change.

        Bell, meh. I preferred the 2019 hothead version than Mr. Monotone. I thought it was a breath of fresh air after the previous Mr. Monotone, Price (who just retired by the way).

      • Bill J

        Last year would have been the best time for a trade but, we really don’t know how it would have turned out. I still wonder what Geno & Iggy would have gotten from Atlanta who were looking for a 3rd baseman & closer. Could it have got 1 of the their top 2 outfielders & a pitcher.

  18. Sliotar

    Lots of good comments here today, and yesterday regarding Krall getting a promotion.

    Bauer can probably land whatever deal he wants … but, I think we are going to be surprised how many “good” (far above replacement-level) guys around MLB are going to be non-tendered/released.

    I hope the Reds are still in a “go for it” mindset … especially to adequately plug SS, at a minimum.

    “Be greedy when others are fearful” – Warren Buffett.

    Subtle signs around that there will be a lot of cost reduction/risk aversion/”fear” in MLB front offices this winter.

  19. Greenfield Red

    It will be interesting how long the Reds continue to play Votto at first and bat him near the top of the lineup. He could become historically unproductive in the next three years if they continue to do so.

    Additionally, I really hate that they’ve traded away so much young talent… including badly needed left handed pitching, and they got literally nothing to show for it.

    I find myself not investing as much of myself in the Reds these days. I’m not switching to another team… I just don’t care much when virtually every move they make is a bad move.

    • DaveCT

      Losing minor league ball bummed me out as much as anything. Losing Minor league players we’ve gotten to follow more closely via Doug/RML’s via trade usually doesn’t sting as much for me over time, as most don’t make it. Ben Lively anyone? In general, Greenfield Red, I prefer the discussion content over there.

  20. Tom Mitsoff

    The last “winning wave” the Reds tried to ride was the Dodgers and their hitting approach when they hired Turner Ward to make it happen in Cincy. I think the Reds and a lot of teams are going to dig very, very, very, very deep to try to figure out the Tampa Bay Rays’ formula. They’ve been very competitive for years, and this year they are in the World Series with a payroll one-third of LA’s, and about half of the Reds’.

    The kneejerk analysis is that they identify players who can fit specific roles and acquire those players for pennies on the dollar. It goes much deeper than that, and scouting has a heck of a lot to do with it. It also seems to me in the limited time I have watched the Rays that there are no sacred cows. Manager Kevin Cash makes the moves he thinks are the right ones, no matter who is involved or at what point of the game.

    • Sliotar

      Tom, the “no sacred cows” point is well made.

      We don’t truly “know”, of course, but the Reds do appear to have “sacred cows”, by all appearances.

      -Votto … going to play virtually every day
      -Suarez …. going to play virtually every day
      -Gray … at least one start this season, pushed back on being pulled
      -Iglesias … 9th inning guy only, sometimes 8th … no “use anytime in high leverage”

      Every Rays position player looks subject to being platooned or pulled for a PH, none of the Rays excellent starters seem guaranteed to get a third time through opponents’ lineup.

    • Sliotar

      Knowing these constraints and whatever others there may be (Casali as Gray’s personal catcher) (old Vandy teammates) ….

      the Reds can’t (won’t) fully replicate the Rays in playing time model …

      but, it can belt-tighten by non-tendering a few guys, trying to dump bad contracts (Barnhart when Stephenson needs to play a lot) … and use whatever savings can be spent on plugging holes.

      The Rays front office, if they were running the Reds roster, would likely be much more ruthless in who is sticking around.

    • Westfester

      The Rays excel at identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their players. They then acquire talent in order to cover each others weaknesses. In other words, their roster is not homogenous; such as the swing hard, high strikeout, slow footed Reds.

    • Charlie Waffles

      It is a shame the Reds will not hire a GM to assist Krall in baseball operations. There is 1 Rays assistant GM that might have been very attractive, but the Reds shut the door on any outside help. The Rays assistant GM for Baseball Development, Peter Bendix, from Cleveland might have been a good one to poach and move into a GM role.
      A small bio on Bendix: “Peter Bendix was promoted to vice president of baseball development in October 2019 and begins his 12th season with the Rays. In this role, Peter assists in all aspects of baseball operations, including player evaluation, roster management, long-term thinking and helping to oversee the day-to-day functions of the department. He spent the past four seasons as director of baseball development, serving as a liaison for baseball research and development to all other aspects of the organization, with a primary focus on the major league club.”

      • Greenfield Red

        Do the Reds have anyone in the “long term thinking” role you mention? It sure does not seem like it.

  21. Jeffery Stroupe

    Off topic but have to say this….if Johnny Bench were 22 years old in 2020 he would be in Louisville….so upside down in their thinking..