If you have been paying attention to the “Hot Stove” lately, you’ve probably heard about Trevor Bauer’s unique strategy regarding free agency. Bauer, just named the National League Cy Young Award Winner, plans on signing one-year deals for the remainder of his career to maximize his earnings. He would also be able to essentially choose a contender going into each offseason.
I have heard a lot of fans arguing that the Red Sox should not go after Bauer as they are not likely to turn around a team coming off a 24-36 last place finish. In reality, it would be an incredible decision to go all in on Bauer for the 2021 season.
The Red Sox are in desperate need of pitching and Bauer undoubtedly would be a gigantic boost to the rotation. In a shortened 2020 season Bauer went 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 73 innings. His team did him no favors in the win-loss column but he was fantastic in his eleven starts with the Cincinnati Reds.
The Red Sox ranked 28th in Team ERA in 2020 and desperately need an upgrade. The Red Sox are going to be big spenders this offseason and with Cora’s help could put together a solid team in 2021. If everything goes right, you have one of the best pitchers in baseball to help get this team to the postseason. If not, you still have a few great options.
Trade Trevor Bauer at the Deadline
The first option is the earliest exit possible (and it’s a win for both sides). If the team is not performing well and it looks like Bauer’s stay will be limited, Bloom can trade him to a contender at the deadline. His name value alone will garner plenty of attention. If he picks up where he left off, the Red Sox could acquire some notable prospects to enhance their lackluster farm system. The Red Sox would essentially be buying prospects for whatever Bauer’s one-year deal comes out to. The biggest benefit to this deal is that Bauer would be completely off the payroll for the 2022 season, and Boston would have an improved farm system.
Give Trevor Bauer a Qualifying Offer
The second option for Chaim Bloom would be to give Bauer a qualifying offer. Bauer is the type of player that wants to bet on himself on the open market ten times out of ten. His value is also higher than the value of a qualifying offer, as long as he stays healthy. The qualifying offer for this season is a one-year, $18.9M contract. In this case, you either get Bauer for a bargain or a high draft pick when he leaves.
Assuming Bauer declines the offer (and he will) the Boston Red Sox will receive a draft pick from the team he plays for in 2022. That draft pick will be their first round pick, unless that team ends up in the top ten, in which case the Red Sox would receive the teams next highest pick.
Trevor Bauer Extension
In a scenario where the team has a marked improvement, the Red Sox could consider keeping Bauer around. There is a real chance that the 2021 team is competitive but feels a year or two away. In that case, keeping Bauer around could be quite beneficial for another season. I find it unlikely that Bauer would sign an extension outright, but he could be re-signed in the offseason.
My main point I am trying to make here is that the one-year deal is a great option. Bauer is one of the best pitchers in the game and will not be able to hurt the team beyond 2021. The absolute worst-case scenario is that he underperforms or gets hurt, and we let him walk after this season. John Henry has to cough up roughly $20 million of his $2.8 billion for an experiment. There is not a single fan that should be mildly concerned about that.
The upside is that he continues to pitch as a Cy Young caliber player for the Boston Red Sox. Even if the team underperforms, we get to watch him spin his ridiculous pitches every fifth day and then use his pedigree to improve the teams farm system.