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Inbox: What is Bauer's future in Cincinnati?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers Reds fans' questions
@m_sheldon
January 31, 2020

It’s been one very newsy offseason for the Reds, especially on the Hot Stove front. With four free-agent signings totaling $164 million, Cincinnati has signaled its intention to contend for the postseason. After Nick Castellanos became the latest acquisition on Monday, now would be a very good time to dust

It’s been one very newsy offseason for the Reds, especially on the Hot Stove front. With four free-agent signings totaling $164 million, Cincinnati has signaled its intention to contend for the postseason.

After Nick Castellanos became the latest acquisition on Monday, now would be a very good time to dust off the Reds Inbox and hear from the readers.

Will the team extend any of the pitchers’ contracts during the upcoming season to lock them up? Trevor Bauer? Luis Castillo?
-- Aaron H., Cincinnati

Trevor Bauer has maintained throughout his career, including after joining the Reds last summer, that he plans to sign only one-year contracts. Luis Castillo, on the other hand, is a great candidate for a multi-year deal. He’s eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2020 season and is a legitimate All-Star ace whose price tag will only increase as he continues to perform and gets closer to being a free agent.

Trevor Bauer was not what we expected once coming over from the Indians ... or was that the real Trevor Bauer?
-- Bill W., on Facebook

We shall soon find out, but I’m bullish that Bauer will be closer to his 2018 performance (2.21 ERA in 28 games) than what he did for Cleveland and Cincinnati combined last season. He was dealing with ankle and back injuries but still turned in career highs in starts (34), innings (213) and strikeouts (253). However, his 34 homers allowed was also a career high as he went 11-13 with a 4.48 ERA. Although he has sometimes been criticized for it, Bauer is very meticulous with his preparation and approach and began working out almost immediately after the ‘19 season. If he stays healthy, he could be very good in 2020.

I know he’s a professional and all but he’s young and for sure reading social media. Is any of this trade talk wearing on Nick Senzel?
-- @win1SuperBowl, on Twitter

I haven’t seen Nick Senzel since Redsfest, but I doubt it. For a younger player, he has an advanced grasp of the business side of baseball and the big picture. I remember talking to him last winter and he was keenly aware of the rumors surrounding him and the possibility of being traded. It didn’t appear to bother him at all. He would likely prefer to remain with the Reds, though, especially when the team expects to be a factor in the National League.

General manager Nick Krall said after the Castellanos signing that there were no plans to move Senzel and that he remains on the team. It’s also important to remember that Senzel is recovering from right shoulder surgery, which doesn’t exactly boost trade value.

Did Eugenio Suárez’s shoulder injury affect the motivation for the Nick Castellanos signing?
-- Brian H., on Facebook

I doubt it. Eugenio Suárez hurt his right shoulder in a pool accident about a week or so before the Castellanos signing. Large, multimillion-dollar deals often take longer than that to negotiate. The Reds were in contact with Castellanos’ agent, Scott Boras, for several months -- as well as the agents of other outfielders -- throughout the offseason.

Over the past year, we've addressed the rotation, but I keep thinking about all of the one-run losses and the inconsistency with Iglesias in the late innings. Does it look like we're sticking with Raisel as the closer or may we see more Lorenzen and/or Garrett in the eighth and ninth innings?
-- Jeremy C., on Facebook

Raisel Iglesias is the closer going in, but I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s another attempt to utilize him earlier if a high-leverage situation dictates it. He is somewhat unique in his ability to work multiple innings, and his 30 saves of more than one inning lead the Major Leagues over the last four years. Still, Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett could and should pick up save opportunities. Iglesias needs to perform better than in 2019, no doubt, in both save and non-save situations. His 34 saves were a career high, but he blew six saves, and his 12 losses were the most ever by a Reds reliever.

Any chance we see Tyler Mahle in the bullpen to help towards depth? I get it if a rotation pitcher gets hurt that he is next up. But why not use him in the bullpen where he could be super helpful in a needed position?
-- @agreen2487, on Twitter

It’s possible, as manager David Bell is very high on Tyler Mahle and routinely sings his praise. But there is also something to be said for rotation depth down below, and having him start in Triple-A could be best for the club, so that he is stretched out and ready if someone in the starting five is injured. After the previously mentioned three, there are a lot of bullpen candidates -- including Robert Stephenson, Lucas Sims, Sal Romano, Cody Reed and the two veteran non-roster invites, Nate Jones and Tyler Thornburg.

Mark, has there been any update to incorporating some of the retro uniforms used last year for the 150th? I am completely biased for the 1969 uniform but just curious if any have been adopted. Thanks.
-- Greg O., on Facebook

Not in 2020. Especially after the 15 throwbacks last season, the Reds intentionally took it down a notch with any thoughts of a full redesign. However, the new Spring Training/batting practice jerseys definitely have a nod to the 1956 design. They feature the current version of Mr. Redlegs’ head on one side of the chest with the number on the other. There’s also a new red alternative jersey that features the scripted “Reds” that’s been seen in past spring uniform tops and in the 1936 jersey.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.