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Bauer Astros cheating

Consider the angles: Is Trevor Bauer worth it for the Yankees?

Recent rumors suggest Yankees GM Brian Cashman is on the hunt for pitching help, and his wandering eyes have turned to Indians righty Trevor Bauer. Bauer has one more year of control in 2020 and can become a free agent in 2021, making him attractive contractually but also likely more expensive.

Bauer’s good. He flashed becoming truly elite last season, driven in part by a lower-than-sustainable home run rate (his HR/FB rate has doubled in 2019). It seemed possible before the season that Bauer had truly climbed into the elite, especially considering his off-season habit of developing new pitches, but alas, he’s fallen back to the ranks of the very good in 2018.

Don’t take that as a dig! Bauer can pitch. He has a high-spin fastball and continually refines his repertoire. He’s smart and might be among the game’s most analytical pitchers. In a sense, even despite being a high draft pick, Bauer has had to cobble himself into a quality big leaguer. He’s not here on pure stuff alone; Bauer put himself under the microscope and went to work. This is meant as a compliment. Bauer is a self-admitted average athlete who worked tirelessly to be the pitcher he is.

And again, he’s pretty good!

Season Baseball-Reference WAR
2016 2.3
2017 3.2
2018 5.7
2019 1.7

Not bad. For what it’s worth, Fangraphs WAR has him higher in 2017 and 2018. On quality alone, Bauer would be a nice addition to the Yankees rotation, roughly the same level as Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. In other words, not on the level of Chris Sale or Justin Verlander, but pretty darn good. There’s a lot to be said for pretty darn good. The Yankees probably don’t want to rely on JA Happ or CC Sabathia for critical playoff starts — no offense to either, but that’s the reality — and acquiring Bauer would ease the need for that, with or without Luis Severino.

He’s good. Pretty useful. Might help younger pitchers with analytical stuff, too. Cool. All good.

There’s more to it than just on-field performance with Bauer, though. I’ll be frank with you in a way I normally am not about such things, but Bauer in New York could be a disaster. Imagine how his harassment of a woman online would play under the bright lights of the Big Apple as compared to Cleveland.

Imagine the first time he goes through an extended slump — as all players do — and he starts spouting off at reporters. The potential for neverending drama with Bauer in New York is very high, and while I don’t put all the blame on him — the New York media loves nothing more than to write a story that involves itself — he certainly isn’t the kind of guy to take the heat out of a situation.

Adding Bauer puts a ton of pressure on manager Aaron Boone too. Maybe Cashman thinks he’s ready for it; maybe together they believe the steadying presence of pseudo-captain Aaron Judge will keep Bauer from spouting off. And hey, maybe it will. Maybe it won’t be a mess, but the chance is there. But given the potential of the season, is acquiring Bauer worth it? I don’t know, but I hope the Yankee front office approaches this one with extra care. The stakes are high.

The Yankees find themselves in a weird spot. The team is very good but not without its flaws; lack of a true frontline starter is one of them. The trade market presents no resounding fix, which means the Yankees front office has some difficult scenarios to work out in the coming weeks.

(Real shame there were no really good pitchers available this winter.)

Adam Adkins also writes about baseball at AdkinsOnSports.com. His most recent Ode to a Pitcher breakdown celebrated the life and career of Tyler Skaggs.