It looks like the sweepstakes surrounding the top free agent pitcher on the market is coming to a head at long last.
Trevor Bauer, the eccentric reigning National League Cy Young winner, reportedly has an offer in-hand from the New York Mets (although it’s reported to be weeks-old already). If Bauer does, indeed, sign with the Mets – San Diego Padres fans should breathe a sigh of relief.
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Now, I know – not adding a Cy Young-caliber arm isn’t usually considered a win. But San Diego went in a wildly different direction this offseason and are better off for it. We know Bauer is targeting Gerrit Cole’s AAV record of $36 million. Instead of ponying up such a deal, the Padres broke up that money and built out a legitimate World Series contender.
The team traded for Yu Darvish (owed $59 million over the next three years) and Blake Snell ($30.8 million over three years) – which works out to just over $31 million this season. Add in Joe Musgrove, who came over in a trade with Pittsburgh, ($4.45 million salary in 2021) and you can easily see: San Diego added a trio of starting pitchers to their arsenal for less than Bauer’s targeted AAV.
Darvish, who finished runner-up in the NL Cy Young race to Bauer, is coming off a dominant run that dates back to the All-Star Break in 2019. He’s unleashed an arsenal of 11 pitches on opposing hitters, doing so masterfully, and giving San Diego a veteran ace atop the rotation.
Padres are deeper and more talented without Trevor Bauer
Snell, a former Cy Young winner himself, is cost-controlled and brings a winning pedigree from his time in Tampa Bay. Musgrove, a San Diego area native, could wind up being a major contributor after escaping the dredge of playing for the Pirates.
With the funds still at his disposal, general manager AJ Preller brought back utilityman Jurickson Profar – further bolstering the club’s depth. Whether or not the front office adds a couple more relievers to the mix or not, this team is built to win now and for years to come.
If San Diego approaches the deadline this summer in need of shoring up a specific position, the fact they didn’t tie up $36 million annually in one player will pay huge dividends. Preller masterfully navigated the trade market to perfection this winter, keeping his prospect core intact while rounding out a roster built for October.