Astros have at least 3 strong reasons for a no-brainer decision at key position
So, are you more of a glass half-full person or more of a glass half-empty person? For the optimistic glass half-full membership: Only six more weeks until spring training opens! For the pessimistic glass half-empty crowd: Ugh. Six more weeks until spring training opens! Even with the Texans wrapping up a third straight pathetic season this weekend and the Rockets in the midst of their third straight pathetic season, the optimists have it right. Especially after the sturm and drang of a year ago when everything was delayed by collective bargaining negotiations.
We are in the midst of the generally quietest stretch of the offseason. Most of the heavy lifting of free agency is done (the Carlos Correa saga notwithstanding), and while there is certainly still the possibility of a blockbuster trade or two in the next month and change, most clubs pretty much have the makings of their 2023 rosters in place. The Astros are the American League favorites as is, making it that much more eyebrow raising that somehow they’ve been mentioned among teams as a possible landing spot for pitcher Trevor Bauer should the Dodgers cut ties with him. Of course, anyone can chuck anything against the wall these days. Never say never but I’d be stunned if the Astros signed Trevor Bauer.
Bauer has been reinstated after serving a 194 game suspension over sexual assault allegations. The lurid details that made it to the public domain were quite disturbing. Bauer was never charged with a crime, not that that is proof of innocence. The Dodgers have a Friday deadline to reinstate Bauer to their roster or release him. Either way they will owe him 22 million dollars for the coming season.
Bauer last pitched in a game June 28 2021. He was having an excellent season for the Dodgers after winning the National League Cy Young Award as a Cincinnati Red in the 2020 60 game COVID season. Bauer turns 32 years old in a couple of weeks. His talent is unquestioned. It’s not like he missed the last season and a half because of Tommy John surgery or a torn rotator cuff. The argument for signing him would be “Talent wins. You can never have enough pitching. Bauer served his punishment and is eligible to play for any team.” The argument against signing him would be “Isn’t it obvious?”
Astros’ fans should refrain from any “My team would never sign a guy like Bauer” sanctimoniousness. Jim Crane certainly signed off on the Astros’ 2018 trade for pitcher Roberto Osuna. Then General Manager Jeff Luhnow made the deal acquiring a “distressed asset” with the Toronto Blue Jays wanting nothing more to do with Osuna after a 75 game suspension that Osuna accepted for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. A suspension over which the Players Association filed no grievance (in contrast to Bauer’s case). Osuna blew out his arm in 2020 and the Astros non-tendered him. He pitched 2021 in Mexico and began the 2022 season there before going to the Japan League’s Chiba Lotte Marines. Osuna excelled in both Mexico and Japan, still hasn’t turned 28 years old, and no Major League team has touched him.
I’m not saying in absolute terms that no one should sign Trevor Bauer, but the Houston Astros should not. With Justin Verlander gone, Cristian Javier yet to start for a full season, and Lance McCullers often seeming an injury waiting to happen, yes the Astros’ outstanding starting pitching depth could fray. But presently they have Javier, McCullers, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Jose Uruidy, with top prospect Hunter Brown pounding on the door to join the rotation. In purely baseball terms, signing Bauer would make sense if the Astros had a move ready including, say, Garcia, in a trade to the Pirates for centerfielder Bryan Reynolds. Signing Bauer would not be a purely baseball decision. Pass. If he was to sign with the Angels or Rangers, flourish, and help one of those teams contend with the Astros in the AL West, so be it.
Did you know we have a new Astros podcast?
Stone Cold ‘Stros is the weekly Astro-centric podcast I take part in with Brandon Strange and Josh Jordan. On our regular schedule it airs live at 3PM Monday on the SportsMapHouston YouTube channel, is available there for playback at any point, and also becomes available in podcast form at outlets galore.