Trevor Bauer was the third overall pick in the 2011 draft coming out of UCLA. He was the first in his class to reach the majors and is consistently listed in the top five prospects lists by major publications.
The Diamondbacks thought they had something special in Bauer when they signed him and leading up to his major league debut, the buzz around Bauer was intoxicating. The ceiling is extremely high for the right-hander and the D’Backs expected nothing less than top of the rotation production from the 21 year-old.
In June 2012, he got the call to join the Diamondbacks.By the end of April 2012, with Josh Collmenter struggling mightily, fans were practically screaming for Bauer at Chase Field. They got their wish on June 28th in Atlanta when Bauer made his first career start lasting just 4 innings as he left with dizziness from the summer heat. But, by the time Bauer had made his first impressions on the league, most people were happy to see him demoted back to AAA Reno after his July 17th start. It was an interesting thing to see as Bauer struggled with his control- walking 13 batters in his 16 1/3 innings of work. His velocity was down from his typical 94-96 mph and big league hitters enjoyed teeing off on the youngster as his ERA ballooned to 6.03 in his four starts. Still, his K’s per 9 innings remained impressive at 9.4 and the organization knew that most initial call-ups would end up with similar results- it would be how that player reacted to these results that would determine his future.
But, for Bauer, the issue wasn’t truly even his pitching numbers, although they didn’t do him any favors either. The issue was how Bauer dealt with all the media scrutiny on his pregame warm-ups that would last the better part of an hour- leading to questions on whether the extensive program was the reason he only made it out of the fourth inning once in his four starts. He shrugged off any such notion, and perhaps rightfully so. After all, he had done this his whole life with results that got him to the big leagues.
On top of that, he rubbed catcher Miguel Montero the wrong way by consistently shaking off pitches the veteran catcher would call for Bauer with less than favorable results. This, of course, made its way into the public eye and created a bit of disdain towards the 21 year- old saying he was disrespecting the game and just wasn’t ready to compete at the highest level.
Still, could we really base this player’s potential on four starts in the middle of a disappointing campaign by the Diamondbacks? Couldn’t we say the same about left handed prospect Tyler Skaggs, who finished with a 5.83 ERA in his six MLB starts? Bauer had been tearing through both AA-Mobile and AAA-Reno in 2012, going 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA while striking out 157 hitters in just 130.1 innings. He was ready for the next level and all signs pointed to a bright future with the club. The move now seems more personality driven then stats driven. That is a why the trade may come back to bite the D’Backs.
Getting back to the actual trade, I believe it is worth mentioning that the Diamondbacks shelled out $4.45 million over four years as well as a $3.45 million signing bonus to get Bauer- a sure major leaguer. What did Didi Gregorius garnish? The Cincinnati Reds signed the Netherlands native for $50,000 out of Curacao. So, less than two years later, the D’Backs have given up on Bauer for a shortstop that has posted a .271/.323/.376 slash line in five minor league seasons. Sure, Kevin Towers referred to Gregorius as a “young Derek Jeter“ and that certainly is encouraging, but I do believe Bauer received comparisons to Tim Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young winner and four-time All-Star.
To be clear, I’m not denegrating Gregorius, Tony Sipp, or Lars Anderson, all acquired yesterday. I just would have thought Towers would have demanded a little more from a player that was so highly touted just six months ago, prior to his major league debut. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if Bauer earned all three of those players for him alone.
We should also keep in mind that there is nothing to say that Bauer will be successful either. There are certainly more top 10 prospects that don’t have an impact in the big leagues than those that do- Jeremy Hermida, Joel Guzman and Lastings Milledge to name a few. Time will tell if Towers has done the D’Backs right in this trade and we can only hope that the shift to Arizona sparks something in these three players that will bring them to the next level, helping the D’Backs compete in the very near future.
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