It was a close game throughout the first two rounds, and the three contestants head to Final Jeopardy separated by just a few hundred dollars. Alex Trebek announces the last category is 2020-21 MLB Free Agents and, following a short commercial break, reveals the answer is, “All of them.”
Confusion fills the contestants’ faces, and none have the correct question scribbled on their screens when Trebek calls on them. He chuckles when announcing the right answer is, “Which teams should go after Trevor Bauer?”
While all 30 teams would love to add a pitcher of Bauer’s caliber, the simple truth is only a few can afford to do more than just kick the tires, so to speak. Wherever he does land, it will have a dramatic and immediate effect on that team’s MLB futures odds, since there’s nothing like adding an ace to improve anyone’s hand.
Would Bauer Really Settle for a 1-Year Deal?
Just as many teams will not be able to afford Bauer’s price tag, the righthander also needs to accept the fact this is not going to be a great offseason for free agents. Bauer is definitely the biggest name among starting pitchers, but after the financial losses every team suffered during the 2020 campaign, there won’t be huge deals offered this winter like the ones we saw given to Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg a year ago.
That’s apparently okay with Bauer, who is represented by the Wasserman agency. The veteran of nine MLB seasons commented earlier in 2020 that he was going to be looking for 1-year contracts the rest of his career, ignoring the long-term commitment as well as the financial security that comes with multiyear deals.
He has some extra leverage to get his asking price after easily outdistancing the competition for the NL Cy Young Award. Bauer went 5-4 in 11 starts for the Cincinnati Reds with a league-leading 1.73 ERA, striking out an even 100 in 73 innings. That was in stark contrast to the 6.39 ERA he posted in 10 starts for Cincinnati after being dealt there from Cleveland in 2019. The Reds would love to have him back and could make the right sales pitch since most online betting sites peg them as the favorite in what should again be a tight NL Central race.
Could Bauer Reunite with Cole in New York?
For Cincinnati to check off Bauer’s box of being a true contender, the Reds will have to do more than just bring him back. The price tag Bauer has thrown around is $40 million, and that also likely puts Cincinnati out of the hunt. It’s an interesting figure for one season considering best estimates put Bauer around the $45 million career earnings line, and his full-season contract in 2020 was to have been $17.5 million.
We always have to think about the New York Yankees when free agents like Bauer become available. It’s not going to be a good fit for a couple of reasons, starting with the fact New York just shelled out huge dollars to bring Gerrit Cole aboard. There’s also the friction between the two, dating to Cole throwing barbs at Bauer when the two were UCLA teammates.
If there was a team that could really use a frontline pitcher, it’s the Boston Red Sox. That’s not likely with Boston even further down the list for 2021 World Series contender than Cincinnati. BetOnline has the Red Sox 50/1 (visit our BetOnline Review), not to mention Bauer has a career 8.10 ERA at Fenway in three career starts. Tampa Bay could also use him to help defend the AL East title, but no way the Rays can scrape up the dollars.
Left Coast is Bauer’s Likely Destination
Another cash cow that could afford Bauer is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Coming off the 2020 World Series Championship, the Dodgers are pretty well set in the rotation for 2021, so fitting Bauer in would probably mean dealing off a younger arm to fill other needs. Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for trading away youthful pitching prospects for someone like Bauer, who will be 30 by Opening Day.
Their neighbors down in Anaheim could really use some starting pitching, and it would put Bauer back closer to his hometown of Santa Clarita, CA. The Angels will open their purse strings for the outspoken hurler, and probably try to lure him with more than a 1-year deal. It would move the Halos up the list of title contenders, but they’re already starting lower than where Bauer would probably like.
My MLB pick to land him is San Diego. The Padres have spent a bunch of money the past couple of seasons but could afford Bauer on a 1-year deal to give them that lockdown ace to try and unseat the Dodgers in the NL West. They already have a solid lineup to support the mound, and adding Bauer to the top of the rotation plus picking up another arm or two in the bullpen would definitely make the Padres among the more popular wagers in 2021.