Trevor Bauer has been extended a qualifying offer by the Cincinnati Reds according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. This move comes as a shock to absolutely no one. Bauer put up arguably the best season of any pitcher in the National League during 2020 and could be on the verge of becoming the Reds first ever Cy Young Award winner. We’ll find that out in a week-and-a-half when the announcement is made.
This season only six players were extended a qualifying offer. Joining Bauer on the list were Kevin Gausman of the San Francisco Giants, Marcus Stroman of the New York Mets, DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees, JT Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies, and George Springer of the Houston Astros. That’s it.
The value of the qualifying offer is the average salary of the top 125 salaries in baseball each season. This year that makes it $18.9M. A player can only be offered it once in their career. If a player accepts it, it’s a 1-year deal for that price. If they decline it and sign with another team, the team that offered the deal will get a draft pick the following season.
Cincinnati would love to have him accept the deal and return. He’s coming off of a 2020 season that saw him post a 1.73 ERA with a 0.79 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 73.0 innings pitched. While the season was limited due to it’s 60-game nature, it’s one of the more dominant runs in Reds pitching history.
For the Cincinnati Reds and Trevor Bauer, the decision must be made within the next 10 days for Bauer to accept or reject the deal. While the upcoming free agent period seems like it’s going to be slow and offers are going to be far lower than they would in a normal year, players like Bauer should still be able to land deals that should guarantee them more than what a 1-year qualifying offer should get them.
With that said, if he likes all of the things that Cincinnati has to offer, maybe he accepts the deal and gets paid well for 2021, and then approaches free agency again after the season with the hopes that the financial issues that are at the forefront of Major League Baseball have a better outlook moving forward and teams are more willing to write bigger checks in line with players talent. This probably is an unlikely outcome for Bauer, but it’s not something that should be entirely off of the table, either.