The Cincinnati Reds have signed first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers to a minor league contract with an invite to big league spring training.

Jake Bauers has spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Seattle. He has struggled in each of his three seasons, hitting a combined .213/.307/.348 with 27 home runs, 129 walks, and 297 strikeouts in 328 games played.

The former top 50 prospect (after the 2017 season) just turned 26 this offseason. He’s not spent much time in the minors recently – playing just 24 games in Triple-A in 2019 and none since then. Bauers has never showed much power in the minors or in the majors, which doesn’t bode well for a guy who has spent his career at first base and the corner outfield spots – positions where power is expected to be a part of the game.

In the big leagues, the left-handed hitting Bauers has struggled against both lefties and righties, though he has hit righties better. Still, even his “better” split has led to a .213/.317/.352 line in 704 at-bats. In Triple-A over parts of three seasons he’s hit better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. In 229 at-bats he’s hit .284/.387/.410 against lefties and he’s hit .258/.353/.420 against righties in 543 at-bats. There’s a little bit more power against righties, but he’s carried a higher average against lefties which has also resulted in a higher on-base percentage.

On a minor league deal there’s no guarantee that Jake Bauers will make the team. As an outfielder he would have to overcome a ton of depth that includes six MLB ready outfielders, and then another in Jose Barrero is you want to include him in the numbers. At first base he could make some more sense as you have Joey Votto as the starter, but last year’s backup was mostly Tyler Stephenson and he’s seemingly going to be taking over duties as the every day catcher (or at least as every day as most catchers get these days). That could be a spot that’s open for the taking on the roster if the front office thinks it’s necessary, though they may also just bank on Mike Moustakas being able to fill that backup first base role.

16 Responses

  1. David

    Inviting players to Spring Training, that are borderline is par for the course for a lot of major league teams. Filling the roster, getting enough players to play “A” and “B” squad games early in the schedule.
    And every once in a while, you catch lightning in a bottle and one of them turns out to be good enough to make the ML roster.
    This guy will likely flop, but you never know. Maybe the light goes on and he proves that he was worth a top draft choice, once upon a time.
    There will likely follow a lot of comments about “dumpster diving” by the Reds, but a lot of teams do exactly this, for the reason I had at the beginning.

    • Mark Moore

      It’s a nearly no-risk flyer and, as you said, if “the light comes on” you just never know what might happen. And, yes, all MLB teams do this.

    • Jack

      While even the term “borderline” seems generous to describe him it costs them next to nothing to take a look.

  2. LDS

    It’s not that the Reds and other teams all do this that concerns me. It’s that this year and last, it seems to be all that the Reds do. Get on phone when the strike ends and get some decent players.

    • Tom Reeves

      Prior to covid, this team signed Castellanos, Akiyama, Moose, and Wade Miley. The team took a major financial hit. Let’s see where things are after the new CBA is finalized.

      • LDS

        That was a different GM. In 2020 and 2021, and heading into 2022, it’s been bottom fishing. Unless the CBA forces behavior changes on tanking teams, I don’t expect much.

      • Michael E

        True and this is the big argument against signing three or four so-so players with warts rather than ponying up 25 or 30 million for a star player.

        It seems as a Reds fan that we usually come out poorly with FAs. If we sign that start player to a 250 million contract, they’ll be hurt/hobbled in year 1 and never be worth it. The Reds, unlike the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox and maybe Cubs can’t afford to miss that big or they’ll be hobbled for years to come. The Yankees can make a bad signing every year and it’s barely impactful to future moves. Sigh.

        It’d be nice to get a star SS or CF or SP (an actual ACE, not just an SP1/2).

    • TR

      I hope when the shutdown is over the Reds do not go to the scrap heap to fill needed positions like happened early last season with the bullpen.

  3. Max BRAGG

    Another BS move to mascaras TERRIBLE front office and OWNER! JAKE good guy but can’t hit major league pitching! Another SHOGO!!!!!!!

  4. Pablo

    “the following takes place between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m…………beep…beep….beep.

    Sorry, thought we had Jack Bauer for a second.

  5. Jim Walker

    This strikes me as a curious signing since the Reds are already too LH hitting in general and particularly with guys who figure to be only 1B/LF/ (and presumably) DH material). I’d guess Bauers is more of an organizational depth signing in case should they be able to shed Moose’s salary.

    • Old Big Ed

      I had similar thoughts. If you squint hard, you can see that Bauers had a low BABIP against RH pitching last year, with a lower K rate and higher BB rate, and was therefore fairly plausible against RH pitching.

      I suppose the hope is that 400 regular ABs in AAA may result in his getting back to whatever he was as a top prospect. Not much risk with this signing.

  6. MK

    Good signing. It seems they have signed a similar player type each of the past few years who is destined to be Louisville’s first baseman. He is also a guy who would not be overwhelmed by the thought of the big leagues of Votto went down for a significant amount of time.
    This might have been a better post for the minor league page as I think this was a signing more about the Bats than the Reds.

  7. MK

    Former Indians Naquin and Freeman were looking for an opportunity by an MLB team and signed minor league contracts with Reds. Obviously Naquin did better than Freeman but both got MLB time. Maybe Bauer saw what happened to former teammates.

  8. Michael E

    It’s a low risk, lottery ticket shot. I see no issue with it at all. I don’t think it screams cheap as much as it does shrewd. He was a top prospect at one time due to talent. It might come back with right scenery and coach/teammates. Who knows.

    What would scream cheap is signing a 35 year old never-been to a vet minimum deal to fill a starting position. That is what would have me angry. I assume something like that is coming as it feels like 2022 is a complete punt by the FO while a few more contracts expire. As usual, we have to dream about…maybe 2023 or 2024 is when it all comes together.