This shouldn’t come as a surprise to just about anyone who has been following the Cincinnati Reds at any point in the last 35 years or so, but it would appear that 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer is out of the price range for the Reds. Jon Heyman of MLB Network is reporting that Bauer is “too expensive for the Reds” and that “he will be pitching elsewhere next year”.

After trading for Bauer at the trade deadline in 2019, he struggled in his transition to the National League. Perhaps it was because he was asked to swing a bat, because in 2020 when the league implemented the designated hitter he took his game to the next level (of course, it may also be because he “magically” found about 400 extra RPM on his pitches, too). That helped lead to the right-handed starter running away with the Cy Young Award for the league as he posted a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts that covered 73.0 innings where he had a 0.79 WHIP, 17 walks, and 100 strikeouts. His ERA, complete games (2), ERA+, WHIP, hits allowed per 9-innings pitched, and batting average against (.159) all led the league.

There was some wishful thinking that perhaps the idea that Trevor Bauer was willing to accept a 1-year deal, something he’s spoken about a lot, could keep the Reds in the running as ownership may have been willing to pay a lot of money to keep him around for another season and then see where things go. If he was going to require more of a long term deal, that’s when far more wishful thinking was going to have to come into play as it was unlikely that Cincinnati would match a 9-figure deal from another organization and that they would have to try and entice him with things like working with the staff in Cincinnati that he reportedly enjoyed and perhaps allowing him to start every four days as he’s stated he wants to be able to do.

Assuming that the report from Heyman is true, then the Reds are going to have to move onto plan B or plan C to round out their rotation. Perhaps that simply means letting the open spot in the rotation be a “win it in the spring” competition between internal options of Michael Lorenzen, Tejay Antone, Jeff Hoffman, José De León, or prospects Nick Lodolo or Tony Santillan. Maybe the organization will go out and look at other starters on the free agent market, or perhaps they look into who could potentially be available in trade.

As long as Trevor Bauer signs with someone before the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, the Reds will receive a draft pick as compensation given that they offered him a qualifying offer. How much he signs for will determine where the pick will be. If he signs for less than $50M total, then the team will get a draft pick following the 2nd round. If he signs for more than $50M then Cincinnati will get a pick following the 1st round.

44 Responses

  1. Rut

    Stinks being a fan of this moribund franchise.

    The Reds “window” to win can be considered closed, maybe it can reopen in 2025 or so…

  2. D Ray White

    Contending for championships too expensive for Cincinnati Reds. Can’t resign Trevor, need to trade Sonny. Don’t worry though, plenty of bobble head giveaways are planned for 2021. Big Bob is no closer to bringing championship baseball to Cincy than he was when he bought the team. Time to go back to the Pirates and the Central cellar…

  3. D Ray White

    Rooting for professional sports teams in this town is like choosing between getting kicked in the nuts or punched in the nuts. Either way, it’s painful.

  4. Bob Purkey

    Breaking news from Jon Heyman, who really had to work hard for this insight…Trevor Bauer “too expensive for the Reds. . .”

    Really? Never would have guessed.

    • docproc

      More breaking news: “Water is wet.”

  5. MBS

    Are the owners seeking a salary cap in the next negotiations? If they adopted the NFL model, we wouldn’t have these kind of problems. I’ll take 2 years of strikes, for a more balanced playing field in the MLB. I think many people are getting tired of billionaires and millionaires bickering. Owners need to pay the players fairly, and set spending limits, caps, and bottoms.

  6. CI3J

    This should come as a surprise to no one. While some of us could dream that Bauer would want to come back to the Reds on a 1 year contract because he “had a good time” or whatever, think about it from his perspective. He just won a Cy Young, and his value will probably never be higher. If he took a 1 year contract and blew out his shoulder or elbow, he would be leaving tens of millions on the table.

    Bauer is going to get paid, and I would not be shocked to see him get something like 5 years, $150 million. That would set himself and the next few generations of his family up for life. He’d be stupid to come back to the Reds on a 1 year deal.

    • MBS

      You’re right, but I think people latched onto that idea, because that’s what he said he wanted to do. “1 year deals only” His agent came out and said they are open to multi year deals as well. So either she knocked some sense into him or he realized, all on his own, that money is nice to have.

      • Optimist

        I’m in the “that’s what he said” group, and will be disappointed if the Reds don’t match a 60m/2yr deal. But that’s a hope, not an expectation, and there’s below zero chance they go for 3 years or beyond, which is understandable. Excellent for him if he gets anything beyond 3 years/30m per.

      • CI3J

        Even if that’s what he wants to do, he’d be stupid to do it. He’s going to turn 30 in exactly 1 month. Based on statistical aging curves, it’s highly likely that his value will never be higher than it is right now. If he wants to set himself and his family up for the next century, this is his one guaranteed shot, one guaranteed opportunity to do it right now.

        I don’t know how much money matters to him, but given that he (rightly) turned down the Reds’ qualifying offer, it seems it matters at least a little, and if his agent explained to him what I wrote above, it’s possible it suddenly matters a whole lot to him.

        Your outlook on life as a young athlete can change a lot when you’re suddenly on the wrong side of 30. Bauer is not there yet, but he’s about to be. Of course I’m sure he wants to be relatively happy for the next 5 years (or however long his deal is for), but I’m willing to bet he’d be willing to put up with a whole lot more when he’s pulling in $30m+ each year.

      • MBS

        I agree C3PO, that’s why I said he realized money is nice to have. He’d be stupid to take a 1 year if he’s offered 5 years of $30m +. Even the eternal optimist have resigned themselves to no more Bauer.

  7. MBS

    I’d be very happy if Lodolo is actually ready, but assuming he is not, I am rooting for Lorenzen to get the 5th spot. Most importantly I think he’s the best qualified, but I also think he has done more for the team than just about any player we have.

    Need a pinch hitter? Need a defensive replacement at CF? Need a spot start? Need a pinch runner? He trains hard and wants to do everything he can to help the team win.

    • Jon

      And then the bullpen gets even worse. We’ve already lost two of the better options with the departures of Bradley and Iglesias. Stick Lorenzen in the rotation and the ‘pen looks even more vulnerable.

      • MBS

        Well if that’s the case, I’d suppose you you’d be against Antone as the 5th starter to. His numbers were better in the pen than ML were last year. I’m open to a FA to change our options, but those 2 are the front runners.

    • DaveCT

      I’d be amazed if Lodolo is ready before the middle of 2022. This guy hasn’t pitched above Dayton, hasn’t had an opportunity to build innings and, if listening to BA, his stuff still needs a fair amount of improvement, even if looking at present good command.

  8. Gonzo Reds

    >$50M – at least we’ll get a first round pick in the draft – we’ll obviously continue to draft pitching there as we’ll never get a top FA to sign in Cincy even if we could afford to sign them.

  9. John C.

    Not sure why people are complaining about not being able to afford Bauer, there are only about 5 or 6 teams that can. The rest just can’t spend that much money on a pitcher that will never repeat that kind of year. It was fun watching his dominance, but he has not been a very consistent pitcher from year to year. How would you feel if the Reds were dropping $30M a year on a .500 pitcher with an ERA over 4.00 for the next 5 years? All we hear about now how much of a burden Votto is.

    • scotly50

      I am not complaining. it is the best news I have heard concerning Bauers’ free agency campaign.

  10. Katzman0

    Why not see what happens with Spring Training?
    When have a couple guys that stepped up late in the season. Trevor would be great to comeback. High $ pitchers with long term contracts aren’t always going to live up to them.

  11. Doc

    Doug said “unlikely the Reds would match a six figure deal”. Beg to differ but I submit that the Reds would have not only matched but would have willingly exceeded a six figure deal. Only problem is, Bauer’s deal will be nine figures in total, eight figures per year, not six.

      • DaveCT

        Trevor will jump at that 100,000 offer.

      • Doug Gray

        You know, I’d love to be able to say “The 9 and the 6 are on top of one another on the number pad, this was a typo” and save myself the embarrassment….. but, that would make me a liar.

        I can remember typing, thinking “$125,000,000 sounds about right for what he’ll be signing for” and then typing 6 figures while thinking of 6 zeroes in that number.

  12. doofus

    After the 2019 season people on this forum wanted to burn Bauer at the stake.

    • citizen54

      I took a look at MLB Trade Values and Gray has $36 MM of value. The only trade I could come up with that involves prospects or young guys that could come close to making sense for the Reds is for Patino or Grisham straight up for Gray. Grisham is pretty close in value to Gray but Patino has 10MM more in value. Padres might be willing to give up some surplus value in Patino if they think Gray can get them over the top of the Dodgers for the next two, possibly three years.

      On a side note MLB Trade Values confirms the free agents signing made by Williams last year were terribad. Krall is going to get the heat for the coming mess but the blame should fall solely on Williams.

      Akiyama -3.4
      Miley -4.1
      Moustakas -23
      Castellanos -23.7

  13. Russ S

    I took the hint a few months ago when the Reds started liquidating Trevor Bauer bobbleheads. Gave them away as part of Fan Appreciation and then to everyone who signed up for the Redslegs run and then again if you visited the Reds Hall of Fame. Wasn’t as if the bobbleheads said “2020” on them.

    Being realistic, the Reds ARE a small market team and face the issues that come along with this fact. It shouldn’t be a reflection on the ownership. If anything, there are successful small market team models, most notably Tampa Bay, so it’s time to start comparing the Reds to our true small market competitive set and not to large market, wealthy teams that can afford to pay superstars.

  14. Jon

    Bob and his family need to go away and let an owner that actually wants to win and who will spend money on the product on the field purchase the team. It’s not like he’s getting any younger. He can’t take his money with him when he’s dead. Even if he lost money with the Reds in 2020, he can afford to spend in 2021. Vaccines are rolling out and there’s little reason to think that GABP won’t have fans in the stands by June at the latest (and likely earlier). If he wants to be such a tightwad, he needs to sell the team and get out of Cincinnati. Let A-Rod purchase it for all I care. He couldn’t do much worse as an owner than Bob.

  15. Jon

    We as fans should have known better when Marty Brennaman gave Nick Krall a ringing endorsement after Dick Williams’ departure. Though I believe Bob has been ordering payroll to be slashed, Krall’s early moves as GM aren’t promising.

    • DaveCT

      Hatchet man, IMO. We know how long they last once done cutting.

  16. Doc

    If all a GM gets to impress fans is 1-2 months of an off-season, who would want the job? Successful GMs execute a plan over some number of years, not some number of weeks. Krall should be given adequate time.

    If Krall is hampered because BC is calling all the financial shots and applying tight constraints, then what on earth does anyone think another GM is going to be able to do? For that matter, what makes anyone think any experienced, accomplished GM would take the job?

    Krall bashers need a reality check, or a hobby that will distract them for several years!

    • TR

      I agree. Krall doesn’t have a magic wand, so give the guy a chance. He’s got 29 other colleagues and many are usually competing for the same deal. I think, by the time spring training rolls around, the Red’s will look different and be able to compete in 2021.

  17. Tom

    That is the economic reality of MLB baseball today. Don’t expect that the Reds with their puny TV contract can compete with the likes of the Yankees, Mets, Cubs and Dodgers. Few teams with a market similar to Cincy have the financial resources to pony up $30+ million/yr . And quite frankly, that does not always work out. Realize the burden that the Votto contract is to the Reds now. That would not be such a big deal to the Yankees. Big contracts work for a few years – if the team wins and no injuries ensue. If a small market team lands an albtross contract such as the Homer Bailey deal it can set a team back years. Just realize that they could have kept Cueto and a few more if they had not been saddled with the Homer deal. Maybe they would have been competitive for a few more years and maybe one would hav been the year. Unfortunately the backend of large contracts overpay for production such as Votto’s current contract. The Reds do need to emulate teams like Tampa Bay and be creative with their roster. Limit the long-term budget busting deals to selective players who can get you over the hump and deep into the playoffs. Better to trade a player one year early rather than one year too late. Keep the average age of the roster below average. Cheaper that way and you may get a player peaking. Invest in player development and scouting and hope to hit the jackpot one in ten years. Not the Reds fault they do not have the $$ that big-market teams have. Would be nice to have a salary cap in bball and some sort of method to make teams use $$ to win and not to just pocket money like the Pirates. During the season well – fiananced teams have a competitive advantage. Playoffs are a crapshoot. That hurts the competitive balance and is unfortunate for fans in smaller markets. Would be o.k. with Trevor in SD because they don’t act like a big market team and have not won in a while.

  18. LDS

    I see the Nats are asking about Suarez. Potentially, another $10+ million off the annual payroll. If they push a little bit, they can get the payroll under $100 million. Mouse to 3rd, Senzel to 2nd, and the OF log jam is solved. And whatever minor league prospect or cast off received for Suarez starts at short. What a team.

  19. Hotto4Votto

    Well it was a nice 60-game window of competitiveness. Well worth the 6 years of losing.
    And it’s not that Bauer’s too expensive, the Reds could absolutely find the money to pay him. Especially after freeing up $15m+ after getting rid of Iglesias, Bradley, and Goodwin. It’s they’re too cheap to do so.

    • Doc

      Bradley, Iglesius and Goodwin would save money for one year; Bauer would be a minimum three year contract, so there is no way that savings from these three players offset any significant portion of a Bauer contract.

  20. MBS

    I am not ready for this to happen, but if they do it they gotta get some good, and nearly ready prospects in return. Maybe Votto will decide to retire if they begin another rebuild. That would really free up some $. Not that the Reds will use it any time soon.

  21. Ben Marcum

    If moving Gray and Suarez allows the Reds to keep Bauer, then I am all for it. This offense was non-existent in the post-season. Bauer was very good. I think you can move Gray when you have Mahle becoming the pitcher he was last year.

  22. Jim

    I watched 2 games last year. Both playoff losses. Missed 2 days of work and I hadnt called one day off work in over 10 yrs.
    Not going to EVER support the Reds if they blow it up again. I was spoiled from 1975 to 1990. Since 1995, the reds have had 1 good year (11 or 12).
    Bob you want me to spend Thousands to watch or attend games, so you can turn a profit. WHAT DO I GET FOR IT???
    Ill continue for 1 more yr to support Doug, but Bob you can go on coporate welfare (revenue sharing) before I care about this team.
    I wont watch, attend or even give a click to an official mlb site.
    What are the reds good at?? Drafting? Nope! Free Angency? Aaaa No again. Trades?? 3 top 100 prospects for at best a pick after rd 1. No again??

    Laugh all you want, but I bet the Pirates have a better record than the Reds since 2000. Pirates are awful on purpose actually, where as the Reds are worse and give the illusion they are trying.

  23. Mike Bittenbender

    Ok let’s say they move both Suarez and Gray. They’ve freed about 40 Mil off payroll. Not all for a SS. Is it at all possible that those moves would be needed if you got Bauer at 3/120Mil rest of rotation is cheap for a while. Lineup is fixed cost. Could get SS back in return. Could get a cheaper arm in return, maybe Paddack? Not likely I know. But there could be a plan. And for all the crap Mike Brown takes and rightfully so, the team has spent money to keep talent and pursue talent. They just don’t always make the best choices. Reds ownership , except for last offseason, hasn’t come close to the effort the Bengals give. How sad is that?

  24. Nick in NKY

    2020 was Bauer’s best season…but it wasn’t even a full season. Over 2.5 times as many games it’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that he slumps a bit and seems mortal. After all the heartache over the untradeable contracts passed out to Moose and Votto, I’m kinda amazed that so many people here want to pin the Reds to one more 9 figure deal. Bauer coming around to longer deals is good for the Reds; it will keep them from being tempted into poor decision making.

    I liked watching Trevor pitch, but it’s time to look to the future. The name of the game should be smart planning about when they can amass a significant amount of young and affordable talents that all mature together before they get old or expensive. That can still happen in the short-medium term by making smart trades for value and not making decisions like signing 20 or 25 percent of the payroll to one player, no matter how good he is.

    Make a good first round pick. Make a good comp pick. Hopefully collegiate players that are closer to the majors. Make smart trades, leaving no one as “untouchable.”

  25. Tomn

    Don’t multimillionaires own this team? Dont’ the Reds have a huge new contract with Fox Sports? Aren’t they making $, hand over foot?

    Resign Bauer, Gray and Castillo. Please. I know it’s easy to say cause it’s not my money, but put a good team on the field. Please.