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.