Time for a Bauer Outage in Minnesota
Image courtesy of © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsThe lineup should remain virtually unchanged going into 2021. Eddie Rosario is a prime non-tender candidate given his production and assume cost. Also noting that both Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff appear major league ready, there’s an immediate replacement to be had. If Nelson Cruz is retained, and hopefully only on a reasonable contract, then much of the punch should be back.
Where Derek Falvey has work to do is on the pitching front. Minnesota was actually very good on the bump each of the past two seasons, but there’s an exodus of sorts that is taking place this winter. Only three of the rotation spots are accounted for, and finding more pitching is the goal of every organization. For a guy familiar with the former Cleveland Indians pitcher, a reunion between Derek and Trevor Bauer makes a lot of sense.
Here’s the deal though, it’s highly unlikely and that’s because every team in baseball could use Trevor Bauer. He knows that, and every front office around the league knows that. Whether a multi-year deal is struck, or he sticks to his guns as a hired assassin on one-year pacts, the payday is going to come.
Expected to be named the National League Cy Young winner, Bauer posted a ridiculous 1.73 ERA across 73.0 innings in 2020. He owned a 12.3 K/9 with just a 2.1 BB/9 en route to a 276 ERA+. Arguably no one in the game knows their body better than Bauer knows his, and he’s continued to push the boundaries of what can be expected from him.
Turning 30 in January, there’s also expected to be plenty of mileage left on his arm. He wants to extract the most from himself in terms of performance and was able to convince the Reds to allow him an opportunity to pitch on just four days rest. Sustaining that throughout a full season would be a throwback of sorts, but he has it down to a science in order to make it work. Those additional trips to the mound would seemingly provide more value to any suitor, especially if only carrying the risk for a single season at a time.
Circling back to what Minnesota has in front of them, they’re coming off inking the largest free agent contract in history. However, prorated pay in a Covid shortened sprint had the total expense checking in just north of $55 million, or 18th in baseball (and two spots shy of league average). Despite the losses in fan generated revenues this season, the reality is no franchises find themselves in a place of struggle, and especially not a Twins team right in the heart of their competitive window.
It makes sense for the front office to spend a bit on the bullpen, hand out a nice chunk of change to Nelson Cruz, and maybe find a utility man that requires a little bit more of a monetary commitment. In all of that though, there’s not really an avenue to a significant expense. Minnesota will be up against plenty of competition for Bauer’s services, but handing him a blank check would be ego stroking and potentially enough to get it done.
This should be great theater to watch unfold, and Twins Daily Women in Baseball participant Rachel Luba is going to have a field day representing her high-profile client. Where the Twins can allow themselves to enter the ring is in saying the top of the staff is yours, write the amount that will get it done.
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