Is Trevor Bauer worth the gamble for the Padres?

Credit: Japan Times

Credit: Getty Images

Trevor Bauer is a free agent and is available for an inexpensive price tag. Should the Padres sign him? 

There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres need pitching.

The starting staff from 2023 will be completely different as Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo, and Nick Martinez all signed elsewhere this winter. The team’s ace, Blake Snell, is likely to follow them out of town as he finalizes his new contract.

Snell won a Cy Young Award this offseason from his 2023 season that saw him go 14-9 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.189 WHIP in 32 starts for the Padres. Replacing Snell will not be easy, but the Padres could gamble on another former Cy Young Award winner, as Trevor Bauer is available and ready to return to MLB.

Ousted for the past two seasons because of legal trouble, the former ace is cleared of any crimes and looking for work in the States after pitching last season in Japan.

Bauer recently took to social media and proclaimed that he would sign at league minimum with incentives to prove his worth.

At the age of 33, does Bauer have anything left in the tank?

And do the Padres even consider bringing in someone with Bauer’s reputation?


Yes, bring him in. The Padres need pitching

There is no doubt that Bauer still has excellent stuff. His numbers in Japan were very respectable, as the right-handed pitcher went 11-4 with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.130 WHIP in 24 games and 156.2 innings pitched. Bauer struck out 160 batters while walking 34 men. The former first-round pick out of UCLA in 2011 was impressive enough to warrant a look for a major league team.

The Padres’ staff is full of uncertainty. The two ace-like pitchers at the top of the rotation are coming off arm injuries in 2023, and neither Joe Musgrove nor Yu Darvish ended last season on the active roster. Michael King was acquired from the Yankees for Juan Soto in the winter, but he comes with a history of arm injuries and is a question mark. The tail end of the rotation is made up of pitchers like Johny Brito, Randy Vasquez, Pedro Avila, and Adrian Morejon. Adding Bauer would upgrade the whole staff. Plain and simple.


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He is not worth the risk

The numbers are great, and Trevor Bauer could surely pitch at the major league level right now. There is no doubt about that fact. His stuff plays, and he would help a major league staff out with his ability to eat innings. But, there are major red flags even before his recent legal issues (which have been cleared).

Trevor Bauer is simply not liked by most players. Well, at least, that is what is perceived by the fan base; he is one of those players that you love if he is on your team but hate if you are playing against him. That kind of polarizing figure could either light a fire under the Padres team or light a fuse to a powder keg that explodes the clubhouse. There is a huge risk with signing him, and most would argue the Padres need stability, not risk, on their roster.


The verdict

This goes beyond dollars and cents. The Padres can surely afford to sign Trevor Bauer. That is not the question.

The Padres would need to meet extensively with Bauer and do so with the leaders of the clubhouse. Most veterans should be included in a discussion about the good and bad of signing Trevor Bauer. Manny Machado and Bauer have a good relationship, so you can see a link between the clubhouse and the pitcher. It would take more than that, though. You need everyone on board with his inclusion on the roster. And sadly, if there are any doubts or question marks, the Padres should move on.

A.J. Preller has some pressure on him to win. Re-vitalizing the farm system (once again) is not going to save his job. The franchise demands results. The failures of last season are particularly painful when you consider it was Peter Seidler’s last attempt to bring a championship to San Diego. Trevor Bauer makes sense on so many levels, but the Padres must use proper judgment when considering offering him a contract for the 2024 season.

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