As the shortened MLB season comes to a close, select franchises will be met with the immediate need to upgrade their starting rotation. While the upcoming free agency class provides multiple talented arms, the most intriguing player scheduled to become available is Cincinnati Reds starter Trevor Bauer.
Bauer, 29, finished the 2020 season with a league-best 1.73 ERA and 0.795 ERA. He maintained a 5-4 starting record across 73 innings pitched. As a team, the Reds made the postseason for the first time since the 2013 campaign. They were knocked out by the Atlanta Braves in a mere two games.
To this point, Bauer has proven to be one marketable players across the MLB. His voice on social media has been backed up by elite play. If he moves on from Cincinnati for a more favorable market, which teams will be interested?
4. New York Yankees
With Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and James Paxton scheduled to hit free agency, the Yankees starting rotation is expected to undergo change prior to the 2021 season. In addition, there is no certainty at this time that Luis Severino will be ready for Opening Day.
With no additions, the Yankees will be forced to rely on the likes of Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King, Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt to follow Gerrit Cole next season. While Montgomery finished strong, they could use additional support.
When asked about the possibility of joining the Yankees, Bauer didn’t rule anything out. “I want to pitch every fourth day,” Bauer said. “So as long as they’re willing to let me make 40 starts and pitch every fourth day, it would certainly be a conversation.”
3. San Diego Padres
If the objective is to contend immediately for a World Series, then the addition of Bauer could be useful to the Padres. While prospects in MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino have preformed well, a one-two punch of Mike Clevinger and Bauer will be difficult to overcome.
Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers and Joey Lucchesi are all capable of holding a spot in the starting rotation, but San Diego has proven to be serious contenders in the National League moving forward. Even on a short-term deal, the Padres have an attractive market that Bauer could be interested in.
2. Los Angeles Angels
After failing to sign Gerrit Cole in free agency last offseason, the Angels settled for alternative arms in Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran. Los Angeles totaled a formidable pitching staff last season, but they were missing an elite arm. With the addition of Bauer, the team could take that next step towards contending in the American League.
Signing Bauer is important because it preserves the prime of Mike Trout’s career. Whether it’s on a long-term basis or lucrative one-year contract, an additional arm could land Los Angeles into the playoff picture. After the firing of General Manager Billy Eppler, perhaps this is the start of a new chapter.
1. Chicago White Sox
In the yes of the Chicago White Sox, Trevor Bauer should be viewed as the missing piece in order to contend for a World Series next season. Both Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel put up elite numbers in 2020, but a third talented starter would be a major advantage in a postseason setting.
Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning have shown flashes in the past, but won’t be the ideal candidates to take major roles in the starting rotation during the brightest moments.
The team has been willing to spend large sums of capital for select players, and should hold that same principal when discussing an offer for Bauer this offseason.