The San Diego Padres have been linked to Trevor Bauer. Let’s talk about it.
I love this move for the team. Not only does Bauer have a top notch first name, but he can pitch too. Naturally, there are mixed reviews on the potential acquisition. Some believe it is a good move, others think it isn’t. Thus is the nature of the game we love.
Numbers are great, and trust me I will get there, but here is something for the visual learners out there, thanks to the amazing work of Michael Augustine. Look how pretty!
(Quick side note: If you like GIFs, Michael does a great job. Here is a link for you!)
Bauer immediately improves the Padres rotation, and he is not a rental. Just by aquiring him, San Diego will have a new leader among their starters in fWAR. The current leader is Chris Paddack at 1.7, which is close to Bauer’s 2.3, though Bauer has six more starts). Peripherals favor Paddack overall, that kid has a bright, bright future. And yes, the youngster is having a better season than Bauer.
Back to Bauer, though. In my last article I mentioned what kind of pitcher the Padres should be looking for, and that was the controllable kind. Paying for a rental is, frankly, useless this year. Bauer is controllable through next year. Plus, it is hard to imagine Preller and company not going for an extension if they bring in any arm.
Here is where another argument against Bauer comes up. He has a hilarious reason behind not signing for more than a year at a time. My response to this is simple. This Padres team is getting ready to compete for real, and it is hard to see a guy with the outward competitiveness of Bauer not wanting to stick around for that. The key is just bringing him into the culture.
To a smaller degree his desire to sign a year at a time can be looked at in a positive light. Remember this off-season when every teams’ fans were debating the viability of long term contracts? Ever heard the phrase ‘No such thing as a bad one year deal’?
All that considered, I have noted and understand the red flags in his contract future.
But, he frankly comes in and immediately improves the rotation. Looking at the rotation as a whole, Bauer brings a lower FIP, ERA, BABIP, and so many other of those numbers than the current rotation is putting up. He also has a K/9 of over 10.
One of the worries is that the team will have to pay for the 5.8 fWAR version of Bauer from 2018. And that is fair. But also, there is not much of a difference between Bauer this year and last year. The biggest change is the same we are seeing all over the league, he is giving up more homeruns.
A quick trip to Baseball Savant shows us that there are very few changes to who Bauer is as a pitcher from last year to this year. Starting with his pitch usage, there is a drop in curveballs, and an increase with his cutter.
Cutters break less than curveballs, so that would mean a general decline in whiff percentage, and that is being seen a little bit. But it isn’t anything crazy, and it’s only on a few pitches.
Want to see the biggest difference, and what has caused the biggest difference? It goes by the name Barrel Percentage.
There are so many more charts we could look at, but my takeaways from these are that 2019 seems like an anomaly in terms of that barrel percentage. It also shows me that his curveball is still very effective, and an uptick in usage could go a long way.
The thing is that Bauer is not alone. In 2018, the league-wide barrel percentage sat at 6.7. So far in 2019, it sits nearly a whole percentage point higher at 7.6. There is a power surge happening, hence the debate on if the balls are juiced or not.
The Padres are at the point in this rebuild where they can start to bring in the talented veterans to compliment their youngsters. They could use a guy like that in the rotation. The front office is VERY advanced as far as technology and approach. Bauer is outwardly supportive of Driveline. On the surface, that paints a really nice fit.
As far as options to go for this year, it seems to be either Bauer or Noah Syndergaard. Of the two I take Bauer, which is a completely separate debate. After research, Syndergaard is not even on my radar of moves to make.
If the team decides to wait and look to free agency, then they could get Gerrit Cole. That would be nice. However, we are assuming that he does not stay in Houston. To my knowledge there is nothing definitively saying he is heading to free agency. We are also assuming he picks San Diego out of what will be many suitors. There are a lot of unknowns that come with waiting. Too many for my liking. Although getting Cole would be very nice.
That is not to say I am out on Cole, or just think that if there is a right move, it should be made now. To me, Bauer is that move. He seems like one of the best fits the Padres can get.
That begs the question, what do the Padres give up? This is where it gets hard. It would likely be a package centered around Luis Urias. The Indians want talent close to the MLB level.
Yes, Urias is a player for the future. However, second baseman can be found for not a lot of money. And they are not all Ian Kinsler, I promise. The fact is that Bauer is established MLB talent, and if all of this farm building is to win a World Series, then MLB talent is needed.
I am a prospect guy. For the most part, that is what I try to do here for the website. I am all for collecting and grooming potential. But at a certain point, that is no longer the goal. To me, Bauer gets the Padres closer to the ultimate goal than Urias does.
From what I can tell, Bauer is the best option the Padres will have. He makes the team better, and I believe he can catapult San Diego into their championship window. He is not going to be the only acquisition needed to get the trophy, but he could be a very important one.