Cincinnati Reds: Potential replacements for Trevor Bauer in 2021

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)

Who might the Reds choose to replace Trevor Bauer if he leaves as a free agent?

Regardless of how many games are played in 2020, Trevor Bauer will be come a free agent this winter. The analytical-minded Bauer will definitely test the free agent waters and has said in the past that he’d only entertain one-year contracts. If Bauer leaves during the offseason, who might the Cincinnati Reds turn to in order to fill his spot in the starting rotation?

The Reds stocked up on arms in the 2020 MLB Draft. Christian Roa, Joe Boyle and Bryce Bonnin were drafted this past Thursday night, but none of them will be ready in time for big league play next year with Roa being the most likely candidate to make a run at the rotation in the future. However, the Reds do have some players on the farm that could make an impact.

Tyler Mahle is the most likely candidate to replace Bauer next season. He has major league experience starting 25 games in 2019 and and 23 the season before. Mahle showed flashes in 2018 and improved in several categories last year. According to FanGraphs, Mahle’s walk-rate dipped from 10.4% in 2018 to 6.1% last season.

Lucas Sims saw action in 24 games last season and made four starts. The right-hander showed improvement with a career-best 32.2% strikeout-rate according to FanGraphs. However, Sims seems like more of a relief pitcher in the long-term. Sims’ batting average-against was 50 points better in relief than in a starting role.

Nick Lodolo is the Reds best pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline. It was thought that the lefty may have been able to break into the bigs last year and may see some time out of the bullpen in the abbreviated 2020 season. Lodolo would offer a lefty presence in the rotation along with free agent signee Wade Miley.

Coming off Tommy John surgery and likely missing the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hunter Greene is a long shot to fill Bauer’s shoes. That said, if Greene continues to grow into the role of a big league hurler, finds a solid off-speed offering, improves his command and uses that heater that’s been clocked at 103-MPH, he’s got a chance to break camp with the Reds.

Next. Grading the Reds 2020 draft

If by some odd set of circumstances, Trevor Bauer decides to return to the Cincinnati Reds in 2021, he would be guaranteed a spot in the rotation. But, with Anthony DeSclafani slated to enter free agency as well, the Reds need a contingency plan in the event that two starting spots in the rotation are up for grabs heading into next spring.