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Trevor Bauer rejects Cincinnati Reds’ qualifying offer, but open to return

Free-agent right-hander Trevor Bauer has rejected the Cincinnati Reds’ $18.9 million qualifying offer for the 2021 campaign, agent Rachel Luba revealed on Twitter.

Luba, however, said Bauer remains open to discussing a return to Cincinnati and “all other interested teams thru Free Agency.”

“Why wait for the QO to expire to state the obvious,” agent Rachel Luba tweeted Wednesday. She added that Bauer “believes the QO is a ridiculous process so let’s just put it to bed.”

Bauer, 29, who went 5-4 with a National League-leading 1.73 ERA in 11 starts last season and is a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award, was one of six players in Major League Baseball to receive the qualifying offer.

His salary in 2020 was $17.5 million. If Bauer signs with another team, the Reds will receive draft-pick compensation in the 2021 draft.

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Players have until Nov. 11 to decide whether to accept the qualifying offer.

In nine campaigns, Bauer is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA. Drafted No. 3 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, he was traded to Cleveland in a three-team deal in 2012 and spent seven seasons with the Indians before he was traded to the Reds in 2019.

Because of pandemic-related penny-pinching, Bauer is unlikely to land a contract on par with Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million). FanGraphs crowdsourcing projects a three-year deal worth $29 million per year for Bauer. I think five years is possible. If he indeed takes one year, it could come in as high as $35 million. Maybe more.

The Reds presently have approximately $103 million on the books for nine players next season, plus $21.2 million in projected arbitration salaries for another nine players.

Last year’s $166 million full season payroll would’ve been a franchise record, and with payrolls set to come down following the pandemic, it’s uncertain whether Cincinnati can afford to keep Bauer.

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