Cincinnati Reds: Might Trevor Bauer, others skip shortened-season?

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 15: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 15: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Would Trevor Bauer and some of his Reds teammates skip out on a 50-game season?

Could Trevor Bauer, slated to be a free agent this coming winter, decide that a 50-game season is not worth his time? Would some of his Cincinnati Reds teammates feel the same way? It’s an intriguing question, and one that Buster Olney of ESPN raised while speaking on KNBR the other day.

Olney was on with Greg Papa and John Lund of KNBR 680 radio and brought up the idea of a player like Mookie Betts, who like Bauer is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2020 season, skipping a 50-game season.

Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association are locked in a battle over money at this moment. Both sides have offered proposals dealing with the economics of restarting the 2020 baseball season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Neither side has been very amenable towards the other’s position.

Recently, it was reported that commissioner Rob Manfred may be able to solve the conflict and decide to impose a specific number of games for the 2020 season. While it’s good news that the cancellation of the season may be avoided by going this route, the result of that may be a 50-game season.

Olney points out that players about to enter the free agent pool heading into next winter may choose not play, thinking that poor showing in such a small sample size may affect their ability to cash in on the open market. Here’s what Olney had to say on the subject via KNBR:

“I think there’s an excellent chance that you’re going to have a lot of players who are going to choose not to participate…If I were sitting in Mookie Betts’ shoes or George Springer’s shoes, the two biggest free agents in the fall…do you want to risk your free agency? And you’ve already taken a big financial hit anyway. Do you want to risk that to play?”

That’s not too far off the mark. While fans may hate the idea of players like Betts, Springer and Bauer sitting out the 2020 season over concerns for their future earnings, it’s a very real possibility. Olney also points to those players who may become fed up with the owner’s stance and decide not to play. Here’s more of Olney’s thoughts on the subject via KNBR:

“I also think there are going to be some players who are going to do the Ferris Bueller. They’re going to be passive aggressively saying, ‘I don’t like the way this came down. I don’t like the fact Rob Manfred rammed it down our throats, and I’m just not going to play.’”

The Reds have four free agents to-be in Trevor Bauer, Freddy Galvis, Anthony DeSclafani and Pedro Strop. Nick Castellanos may opt out after the 2020 season, but given the current economic climate, that seems unlikely.

Players who are headed to arbitration may have a similar outlook as well. Those players include the likes of Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Curt Casali and Luis Castillo. A poor showing in a small sample size could really affect a player’s ability to acquire a sizable raise through arbitration.

The bottomline is that Major League Baseball and the union need to come to an amicable agreement. The players have proposed prorated salaries over a 114-game season, while owners have sent an agreement to the players that involved an 80-plus game season with adjusted salaries. Neither agreement has sat well with the opposing side.

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A player like Trevor Bauer skipping the 2020 season would be a huge blow to the Reds, who just acquired the right-hander’s services last July. Cincinnati gave up their top prospect, along with Yaseil Puig, in order to land Bauer in a three-way trade. Hopefully, the owners and players come to an agreement very soon.