Bauer to the Yankees? Why the Good Outweighs the Bad
It’s no secret the New York Yankees need starting pitching. General Manager Brian Cashman has made it clear that it will be a focal point this offseason, and the need for a rotation that can compete with the Boston Red Sox is very clearly understood.
While acquiring James Paxton in a trade with the Mariners was a great move, many have seen Patrick Corbin’s surprise signing with the Nationals as a failure for the Yankees, who were considered to be overwhelming favorites to land the New York native. However, there are starting pitchers who are possibly on the trade block, and one who would be an excellent fit in pinstripes is Cleveland Indians’ young right-hander, Trevor Bauer.
Bauer is 27 years old and about to enter his prime, with two more years of team control. As MLB continues to embrace analytics and advanced saber-metrics, it’s important to note that there probably isn’t anyone who is as analytical or who tinkers as much with pitches like Bauer does. He has stated that he only takes two weeks off from throwing out of the year, is already throwing to live batters, and continues to work on his spin rate, curveball grips, and everything in between.
Bauer has also been open about his contract situation. He cites “multiple reasons” as to why he approaches his contracts the way he does – one year deals, and has said he’d only sign a long term deal in the neighborhood of five years and $175 million (which he knows he won’t get from anyone, especially not right now).
There are, of course, valid reasons for concern with Bauer.
For starters, there is his tendency to respond to twitter trolls online, and the lack of tact he uses when addressing these trolls. However, Bauer wouldn’t be the first athlete with off the field character concerns who would be able to find success on the field, which he’s been doing.
There are also concerns with his 2.21 ERA this season being a “fluke”, as he has never posted an ERA under four in each of his first six big league seasons. However, his FIP this season was very close to his ERA at 2.44, and in each season that he has pitched at least 150 innings, he’s only had an ERA over 4.30 once. That’s pretty respectable for someone who broke into the league at 21 – not to mention his ERA+ has only increased every single year he’s been in the league, consistently.
The one concerning thing that does stick out is his walks per nine. This year he had a career best 2.9 BB/9 which is good enough to be… league average. Every season before 2018 his BB/9 has ranged from below average to awful, but if that’s the one knock on him, I’d be willing to take my chances considering all of his stats have shown a steady sign of improvement, which include his K/9, suggesting that it’s possible that those guys he walks, he can also strand pretty easily.
Earlier, an article suggested that the Yankees could trade for Bauer and potentially also take Jason Kipnis’ contract off the Indians’ hands in order to sway them to broker a deal, if they’re not in on Machado or Harper, but the Yankees could potentially pull this deal off and still have enough money to sign Harper or Machado, should they wish to do so. After all, Bauer’s expected $11 million arbitration deal plus Kipnis’ contract could bring the total amount of salary to about $26 million this year, a similar AAV to Patrick Corbin without the risk of a long term investment.
These new Yankees, who said they wanted to get under the luxury tax for 2019 and are in a win-now mode, especially after the Red Sox won last season, have the resources to sign both big free agents if they really wanted to, and still sign a big name pitcher, or trade for a young, low-risk ace and his teammate’s one year deal.
People will continue to point toward Bauer’s twitter comments or the fact that he’s unproven, but the numbers don’t lie: Bauer has gotten progressively better season after season, and he’s a stickler for fine tuning his craft. He loves what he does, and he seems determined to prove himself annually and show that he’s worth the money – oh, and he recently had a pleasant and informative exchange on twitter with the Yankees’ own David Cone. If this isn’t enticing enough for the Yankees, I don’t know what is.
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