What will Jake Bauers' role be with the Reds in 2022?

Seattle Mariners right fielder Jake Bauers (5) takes a swing.
Seattle Mariners right fielder Jake Bauers (5) takes a swing. / Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Cincinnati Reds agreed to a minor league deal with former Cleveland Guardians first baseman Jake Bauers. At one time, Bauers was a highly touted minor league prospect. What can the Reds expect from Bauers in 2022?

First, Bauers has to make the team. The 26-year-old inked a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Think of this as an audition; similar to what we saw from Bauers' former teammate Tyler Naquin last spring.

What might Jake Bauers' role be with the Reds?

The Reds signed Naquin to a minor league contract last year, and the outfielder put up some of the best numbers of his career. Recently, he Reds have seen players like Derek Dietrich and José Iglesias have success at the big league level after agreeing to minor league contracts prior to spring training.

Bauers has had very little success in the big leagues despite being one of the top prospects in baseball just a few years ago. Bauers was originally drafted in the seventh-round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. Bauers has been part of three trades over his career, going from San Diego to Tampa Bay to Cleveland and most recently to Seattle.

A change of scenery has yet to help Jake Bauers develop into the type of player many scouts thought he could become, but Cincinnati is hoping that one more move will be the key to unlocking Bauers' potential.

Bauers was dreadful with Cleveland last season, but didn't improve much once he made the leap to the Emerald City. Bauers hit just .190 with the Indians/ Guardians last season, but bumped his average up 30 points once he joined up with the M's.

Bauers is a first baseman by trade, though he does have experience in both corner outfield spots. Most would argue that defense is not the California native's strong suit, though he does 3 career defensive runs saved while playing 201 innings in right field.

Do the Cincinnati Reds view Jake Bauers as a first baseman, an outfielder, or a designated hitter? It appears as though there's no stopping the DH from making its way to the National League in 2022.

Bauers' numbers in the minor leagues, and more specifically, the Triple-A level are solid. The left-handed hitting Bauers posted .266/.363/.417 slash line in three seasons at Triple-A. If Bauers can somehow tap into the success he's found at the Triple-A level and bring it Goodyear this spring, I think there's an outside chance that he lands a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster.

Next. Evaluating the Reds CF options for the 2022 season. dark

Is Jake Bauers a superstar? No. Is he a serviceable and capable major leaguer. His career stats would suggest no. But, there's a lack of depth in the Cincinnati organization at both first base and the outfield. Don't put it past Bauers to sneak onto the roster and be a bench bat for the Reds at the beginning of next season.