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A case against Trevor Bauer (and why he may be overrated)


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So I crunched some numbers, in a similar formula that I used for my top 20ish position players article awhile back. This time I added up 2019-20 fWAR and RA9-WAR, and divided the total by 2.8. The idea is that fWAR represents stuff (as it is FIP-based), and RA9-WAR actual results (as it is ERA-based). The 2.8 is because it accounts for 2019 as a full season (1.0) and 2020 as a bit less than 40% (0.4) of a season, then x2 for counting both fWAR and RA9-WAR. The end result was what could be considered an equalized "True WAR level" for the top pitchers in the game.

Here are the results with every pitcher of 4.0 or better, with Bauer in bold:

  1. deGrom 7.0
  2. Bieber 6.7
  3. Cole 6.7
  4. Lynn 6.0
  5. Scherzer 5.7
  6. Ryu 5.6
  7. Greinke 5.5
  8. Verlander 5.5
  9. Giolito 4.9
  10. Castillo 4.8
  11. Gray 4.8
  12. Morton 4.7
  13. Hendricks 4.6
  14. Darvish 4.5
  15. Corbin 4.5
  16. Flaherty 4.5
  17. Bauer 4.3
  18. Kershaw 4.3
  19. Buehler 4.3
  20. Minor 4.2
  21. Nola 4.0

(Ties were broken by 2020 WAR + RA9-WAR, so Bauer is higher than Kershaw and Buehler).

The point being, according to this metric, Bauer isn't a top 10 pitcher, more in the 15-20 range. Not bad, but hardly worth $30M a year, let along the $36-40M he's allegedly asking for. I think Corbin or 30-something Kershaw are good comps: a solid #2 guy, but not a true ace.

(As an aside, I was surprised at how high Lynn ranks; Ryu, also, although he's a good example of where the metric breaks down as his 2019 ERA makes him look better than he actually is).

So here's a question: Do you want Bauer only for $30-35M a year, or something like Sugano and Odorizzi for less? 

Bauer wants to be paid like he's the guy he was in 2018 and 2020, when that accounts for only about 21% of his career. For the rest he was essentially Andrew Heaney - a solid pitcher, but not the Cy Young he was for the 21%. Sure, those two years are two of the last three, but only about half the innings, and we can't ignore 2019, when he was a good pitcher, but again, more "vintage Heaney."

I personally think Bauer will be very good for the next few years, maybe a 4-5 WAR pitcher, or essentially Patrick Corbin, who is a very good pitcher but more of a good #2 than one of the best in the game. Remember when Corbin got a 6/$140M contract and we collectively breathed a sigh of relief when the Angels didn't spend $23.3 AAV? What makes Bauer worth $10M or so more a year?

That said, I'd happily sign Bauer for a Corbin-esque contract, and maybe a bit more to reflect inflation and demand. But I'd probably stop in the $25Mish AAV range. I just don't think you spend more than that unless you're certain you're getting an elite arm, and Bauer will almost certainly get more than Corbin did.

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So I crunched some numbers, in a similar formula that I used for my top 20ish position players article awhile back. This time I added up 2019-20 fWAR and RA9-WAR, and divided the total by 2.8. The ide

I think it will come down to the years. If he gets 4 years, yeah he'll probably get 30+ million. But 6 years? I'm thinking 25-28 million.  That said, I think his contract will be backloaded so we

I don’t know if bringing Bauer’s personality into the Angels clubhouse would be an issue, but I do believe that there’s no GM who will take that more into consideration than one who literally grew up

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I think it will come down to the years. If he gets 4 years, yeah he'll probably get 30+ million. But 6 years? I'm thinking 25-28 million. 

That said, I think his contract will be backloaded so we can add other pieces if need be. 

As for your assessment on his talent level, I definitely agree. He's closer to Pat Corbin than Gerrit Cole.

Unfortunately, we have to pay for premium pitching. He may not be an "ace" but he's the closest thing available and that's going to cost money. I don't care about the whole "ace" thing. We need good pitchers. Bauer is the best available. Therefore....we need Bauer.

I will say though, that if Bauer handicaps our ability to get another starter, a catcher, a platoon RF, and another solid BP piece, then it might not be worth it. 

I guarantee we are all in on Bauer, regardless of how Minasian feels about it. I'm sure an offer has already been made, or will be soon.

But getting Sugano and maybe trading for Gray (I don't consider Castillo as a realistic option) would improve the rotation and leave a lot left to improve other areas of need.

There are a lot of options. We can't miss out on a significant addition to the rotation...again.

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Supply and demand. He may not be "worth" big time money to a better positioned team with options. Our options are kind of desperate.

Your buddy with money and abs, who always smells good and dresses well can afford to dump the 8, because he can score a 9 or 10 pretty soon after. We have 3 kids and the ex wife gets half our paycheck.... its not stupid if we commit to settle down with the 7, because we arent in a position to wait for the 9 or 10 whos probably gonna friend zone us for our buddy who smells good anyway.

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7 minutes ago, tdawg87 said:

I think it will come down to the years. If he gets 4 years, yeah he'll probably get 30+ million. But 6 years? I'm thinking 25-28 million. 

That said, I think his contract will be backloaded so we can add other pieces if need be. 

As for your assessment on his talent level, I definitely agree. He's closer to Pat Corbin than Gerrit Cole.

Unfortunately, we have to pay for premium pitching. He may not be an "ace" but he's the closest thing available and that's going to cost money. I don't care about the whole "ace" thing. We need good pitchers. Bauer is the best available. Therefore....we need Bauer.

I will say though, that if Bauer handicaps our ability to get another starter, a catcher, a platoon RF, and another solid BP piece, then it might not be worth it. 

I guarantee we are all in on Bauer, regardless of how Minasian feels about it. I'm sure an offer has already been made, or will be soon.

But getting Sugano and maybe trading for Gray (I don't consider Castillo as a realistic option) would improve the rotation and leave a lot left to improve other areas of need.

There are a lot of options. We can't miss out on a significant addition to the rotation...again.

Yes, agreed. Bauer is tricky, though, because he just won a Cy Young starting 11 games, so the perceptive of his talent level is out of wack with his track record. I'm also leery about doing what has to be done to get the best pitcher available - that's acting out of desperation, or perceived desperation. Anytime we say we "need" someone, it puts us at a disadvantage.

I'm not opposed to signing Bauer, I just think within reason - and that a "within reason approach" will likely lead to being out-bid, because someone is going to give him the money he wants. 

Gray is probably just as good - he fits in that category of #2 talent level. Of course he will cost prospects, but he also comes with a lower salary and thus is less risky and hamstringing to future movies.

Musgrove would be a step down and probably cost a similar or slightly lesser package as Gray, but should also be considered. He looks like he could be turning into another Zack Wheeler pitcher, a borderline #2/3.

Among the other free agents, I think Sugano is intriguing. Tanaka will probably cost more than he's worth, and Walker comes with risk. Odorizzi seems relatively safe, but also has a pretty low ceiling...he's more of another Heaney, and neither Walker or Odorizzi really qualify as a "significant addition."

I also agree that Castillo isn't realistic. Why would the Reds trade him, even in a rebuild? He'd cost the farm.

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7 minutes ago, ten ocho recon scout said:

Supply and demand. He may not be "worth" big time money to a better positioned team with options. Our options are kind of desperate.

Your buddy with money and abs, who always smells good and dresses well can afford to dump the 8, because he can score a 9 or 10 pretty soon after. We have 3 kids and the ex wife gets half our paycheck.... its not stupid if we commit to settle down with the 7, because we arent in a position to wait for the 9 or 10 whos probably gonna friend zone us for our buddy who smells good anyway.

It is a good analogy, partially because it illustrates my point: Nothing wrong with settling down with a 7 or 8, but don't pay for a 9 or 10. That's what I fear Bauer will require. Best-case scenario and he's actually a 9, but he was a 6 aside from 2018 and 2020, and chances are he's a 7 or maybe 8. It makes sense to pay "one level up" if in need, but the Angels better be pretty certain he's an 8 before giving him $30M a yeare.

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Is Bauer who he's been his entire career or is he closer to being the guy he's been the last three years where his 2019 transition could be viewed as more of an aberration?  

If you use the last 3 years and include that stellar 2018 he moves into the top 7 or so.  But there's a pretty big drop off from the top 4.  Corbin, who you mentioned, is right there in the top 7 or 8 as well.  

If you consider Corbin and Bauer #2's then you're really saying that everyone who's not deGrom, Scherzer, or Cole (and Verlander before he got hurt) is a #2.  

There is definitely risk that he ends up being what he has over his entire career vs. what we've seen the last three years and that should temper his cost appropriately.  It's more likely that Corbin is a bit of a steal vs. what other pitchers of his caliber are being paid.  That said, going over an aav of 30m for Bauer would be ill advised.  However, if an extra 2m per is the different of getting him vs. not getting him then I think I'd rather have him.  Because what's the long term difference to payroll of paying him 32m vs. 30?  If you think he's good enough for 30m then 32m isn't a stretch.  Yet if you map out his value at somewhere around 25m per then stretching to 32m isn't smart.  

It's up to Minasian and crew (and Arte) to know how far they're willing to push that limit.  

36-40m is kooky talk.  That's just absurd for his risk profile in my opinion and someone else can have him if the numbers end up around that range.  

I also have this sneaking suspicion that Bauer is going to insist on an opt out.  Which could be a deal breaker for Arte.  

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No fault in all this, hes just lucky enough to be the top guy in what amounts to a very thin class. 
When i heard the 34M ish price tag thing... i have to admit, my desire dropped significantly. 
I love the attitude, i think its exactly what this team needs, but thats a lot to pay for the comparables. 

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3 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

It is a good analogy, partially because it illustrates my point: Nothing wrong with settling down with a 7 or 8, but don't pay for a 9 or 10. That's what I fear Bauer will require. Best-case scenario and he's actually a 9, but he was a 6 aside from 2018 and 2020, and chances are he's a 7 or maybe 8. It makes sense to pay "one level up" if in need, but the Angels better be pretty certain he's an 8 before giving him $30M a yeare.

Maybe if we sign bauer, we can slowly start making him think hes fat, then get him to work out more, and get bolt ons

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9 minutes ago, Jay said:

not my money.

Damn straight, it's not.  Apparently it's Angelsjunky's money...

6 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

I'd happily sign Bauer for a Corbin-esque contract, and maybe a bit more to reflect inflation and demand. But I'd probably stop in the $25Mish AAV range.

 

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I'm thinking that what happens in the Sugano bidding may shape what happens with how or whether Minasian continues to pursue Bauer.  If he is looking to sign him then we'll know by this Thursday or Friday whether he is successful.  Not sure what what the AAV of his contract will be but any reasonable figure would pretty much preclude signing Bauer but would allow for an additional Gray or Odorizzi-type.  As a bonus, none of those three Bauer-alternatives will cost a compensation draft pick.  When I think of what it will take to trade for Gray, I factor in that "sandwich pick' (outdated term I know) with the rest of the haul it will take to get him, so slight overpay in prospects is acceptable.  Doc also brings up a good point about a potential opt-out and if the Bauer team is looking for one, it seems like an Angels prerequisite for back-loading the contract is a deal breaker.

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RE not my money...  while obviously true, it has to be considered if the org is letting Pujols and to lesser degree Upton hamstring us, do we really want to repeat that cycle for what we all know is generally a poor investment?
If Arte was willing to bust the budget for a couple years, thats on thing... go get Bauer, Realmuto and bite the bullet these 2 years, id be all for it, but as much as ive said its what i think we need to do, Arte has said its not something hes willing to do.  "The right guy", well heres the thing, youre not busting it for Bauer or anyone now, you busted it for Trout, and if hes not the right guy, then who is?

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1 hour ago, floplag said:

RE not my money...  while obviously true, it has to be considered if the org is letting Pujols and to lesser degree Upton hamstring us, do we really want to repeat that cycle for what we all know is generally a poor investment?
If Arte was willing to bust the budget for a couple years, thats on thing... go get Bauer, Realmuto and bite the bullet these 2 years, id be all for it, but as much as ive said its what i think we need to do, Arte has said its not something hes willing to do.  "The right guy", well heres the thing, youre not busting it for Bauer or anyone now, you busted it for Trout, and if hes not the right guy, then who is?

I agree with all of this.

The "right guy" quote was Arte blowing smoke up our ass. He's drawn the line in the sand and he won't cross it. That's fine it's his money and he spends a lot of it each year.

I've thought for the last 2 years that he may not have a choice if he wants to win. There's two "right guys" this year in Bauer and Realmuto. But there's absolutely 0 chance he signs both. And honestly I can't blame him. That's a fucking lot of money and he's been burned by 2 guys already, and you could possibly add Upton to that list.

Tough situation to be in. Not a ton of payroll space, and while we have the pieces to make a significant trade, we don't have the minor league depth to withstand such a trade. 

But spending is the way to go. There's really no better option. 

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1 hour ago, Erstad Grit said:

I'm OK with an overpay of him being a tad overrated.

Seeing Ryu and Corbin on that list sucks as they could have easily been here.

Overpay to get him here. Get S Gray too as your list suggest he might be underrated. 

If the Angels were at all interested in trading for Sonny Gray, they would have made the trade already and then used that as a bargaining chip for Bauer. The inaction says one of two things:

The Angels are not interested in trading for Gray

The Reds are not interested in trading Gray

In either instance the inclusion of Gray onto every one of these Bauer scenarios is just wishful thinking.

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19 minutes ago, Blarg said:

If the Angels were at all interested in trading for Sonny Gray, they would have made the trade already and then used that as a bargaining chip for Bauer. The inaction says one of two things:

The Angels are not interested in trading for Gray

The Reds are not interested in trading Gray

In either instance the inclusion of Gray onto every one of these Bauer scenarios is just wishful thinking.

Or, more likely:

The Angels are interested in trading for Gray, and the Reds are open to it, but thus far the asking price has been too high.

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