Reds: How Marcus Stroman accepting qualifying offer affects Trevor Bauer

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches the first inning. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches the first inning. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Trevor Bauer already rejected the Reds qualifying offer.

Trevor Bauer is the best free agent starting pitcher on the market. However, with Marcus Stroman accepting the New York Mets qualifying offer, the separation between Bauer and the second-best free agent pitcher on the market just got considerably larger. How will this affect the Cincinnati Reds negotiations with the likely Cy Young Award winner.

Bauer will find out this evening if he becomes the first pitcher in Cincinnati Reds history to take home the Cy Young Award. But will he return to Cincinnati next season? The 29-year-old has already turned down the qualifying offer extended to him earlier this offseason.

You may be asking, what’s a qualifying offer? According to, a qualifying offer is a competitive balance measure that allows a team to retain the rights of a free agent for one more season by offering the mean salary of the 125 highest-paid players or receive draft compensation in the event the player signs elsewhere during free agency.

Essentially, Marcus Stroman will make $18.9M to pitch for the New York Mets next season and will become a free agent next winter. Trevor Bauer, by rejecting Cincinnati’s qualifying offer has the freedom to sign with any team this offseason, including the Reds. If Bauer signs elsewhere, Cincinnati will receive a draft pick based on the amount of the contract the right-hander signs.

The problem that the Reds now face with Stroman no longer part of the free agent market is that the competition for Bauer’s services will become even more crowded. The California native was already likely to receive a lot of interest from several major league teams, but with Stroman off the market, the next best starting pitcher may be Kevin Gausman.

Gausman, however, also has the opportunity to accept a qualifying offer extended to him by the San Francisco Giants. Should Gausman accept that offer, Jake Odorizzi, who pitched in all of 13.2 innings last season, would be the second-best option behind Trevor Bauer on the free agent market.

If Stroman and Gausman are both off limits, Cincinnati’s chances of re-signing Bauer will take huge hit. In addition to the interest from big market clubs like the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Chicago White Sox, Bauer may also draw the attention of other clubs looking to upgrade their starting rotation like the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves.

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The bottom line is, Marcus Stroman accepting his qualifying offer is good news from Trevor Bauer and bad news for the Cincinnati Reds. Bauer will be a hotter commodity than he already is and Cincinnati’s chances of retaining their ace just took a major hit.