The clock is ticking on the Angels to find an ace for the starting rotation. All offseason, free agent Trevor Bauer has been linked to coming back home and playing for the Halos, but at this point, it might be time to move on.
The Angels currently have a solid group of starting pitchers, but none are considered to be true No.1’s in a rotation.
The idea was to have Bauer lead some form of this current group, but now there seems to be some doubt creeping in. Maria Torres of the LA Times says sources with “knowledge of the Angels’ thinking” believe Bauer would not be a great fit for the Halos.
Torres also went onto say the relationship between Bauer and current Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway has been “eroded beyond repair” from their time in Cleveland.
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These disputes being used as the main reason for no signing between the Angels and Bauer is one I’m not buying. I think it’s a story blown out of proportion because it’s an easy headline to run with. Yes, there are articles out there where you can see the two sides butting heads, but a quick Google search and you find pieces of Bauer and Callaway having mutual respect for one another.
If there are reasons why Bauer would not come to the Angels, it would be financials. As it stands, the Angels currently have around ~$24 million left in the 2021 payroll before hitting the luxury tax penalty. This has happened once (2004) in owner Arte Moreno’s 17 years with the team.
Bauer is reportedly seeking an AAV record contract of $36 million per season. If you do the math, the Angels will take the tax hit if they give up this amount. It’s either that or Bauer takes a one or two-year deal around $20 million leaving the Halos with some wiggle room.
JT Realmuto broke the AAV record for catchers after signing a five-year, $115.5 million deal with the Phillies, and pitcher Liam Hendriks broke the record for relief pitchers when he signed a three-year, $54 million contract with the White Sox earlier this offseason.
Unless there is some financial flexibility, the Angels should look at other options and move on from free agent Trevor Bauer.
Whether or not any team is going to pay Bauer that much remains to be seen. The Mets are reportedly the front runners to sign the right-hander, but is he really worth that much?
I think that’s a lot of eggs to put in one basket for any starting pitcher. If you dive into his statistics, Bauer has maybe two seasons where he might be worth considering for a contract of that size.
Trevor Bauer Last Five Seasons:
- 2016: (28 starts) (12-8, 4.26 ERA) 190 IP 1.311 WHIP
- 2017: (31 starts) (17-9, 4.19 ERA) 176.1 IP 1.367 WHIP
- 2018: (27 starts) (12-6, 2.21 ERA) 175.1 IP 1.089 WHIP (All-Star)
- 2019: (34 starts) (11-13, 4.48 ERA) 213 IP 1.249 WHIP
- 2020: (11 starts) (5-4, 1.73 ERA) 73 IP 0.795 WHIP (NL CY Young)
It’s a tough spot for the Angels and any team because of this sample size. There’s no question Bauer has all the talent to continue pitching at a high-level, but the lack of consistency is what is concerning to commit the amount of money he’s asking for.
The other tough part of the question is the current market for starting pitchers. Jake Odorizzi is the next best option after Bauer, and it’s slim pickings after that.
I don’t think the Angels should sign Bauer unless they can get a deal that keeps them under the luxury tax. I think they should either sign Odorizzi or trade for a pitcher like Sonny Gray.
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An addition of another solid starting pitcher and a high-level reliever might not put the Angels over the top at the moment, but it gives them a great chance at contending. If it plays out well, they can always make their move at the trade deadline this season, which will make them legitimate contenders.