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.