Jeff Passan reported that the Milwaukee Brewers acquired first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers from the New York Yankees Friday afternoon. The Brewers sent minor league outfielders Jace Avina and Brian Sanchez to New York in return. What does this deal do for the Brewers?
Milwaukee Brewers trade for Jake Bauers, why?
On the surface, this isn't a super sexy deal for the Milwaukee Brewers, Jake Bauers is a career .211 hitter at the major league level across time with the Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays.
Adding Jake Bauers give the Milwaukee Brewers some positional versatility that they lost when trading away Mark Canha. In his 4 seasons at the Major League level Bauers has played 183 games at first base and 160 games in the outfield.
However, this deal does show that Matt Arnold is paying attention to the holes on the major league roster. Jake Bauers does not have any minor league options remaining and is eligible for arbitration starting in 2024. Bauers is also 28 years old.
Who are the prospects the Brewers gave up for Bauers?
Jace Avina is 20 years old, Brian Sanchez is 18 years old, both are outfielders, meaning first that Matt Arnold is trading from a position of depth and strength in the organization and acquiring a position of need and also adding some versatility in Bauers.
Jace Avina has made it as far as the single A level with the Carolina Mudcats and Brian Sanchez has just one season registered in the Dominican Summer league.
While pondering the "what could this prospect turn out to be?" question is one fans love to ask and surely will about Avina and Sanchez, the reality is, neither Avina or Sanchez was going to sniff the major league roster this season.
What does this mean for the rest of the Brewers options at first base?
This move to acquire Jake Bauers could signal the end for Rowdy Tellez in Milwaukee. Tellez had a fantastic 2022 season in which he hit 35 home runs, unfortunately, bad play and injuries marred Tellez's 2023 season and his home run output dropped to just 13 home runs in 105 games.
Jake Bauers, despite a lower batting average, hit 12 home runs in just 84 games. So the move for Bauers, in a somewhat admittedly twisted way, replaces the home run output that Rowdy gave the Brewers last year and makes Rowdy Tellez an even more likely non-tender candidate. Bauers is projected to make less than $2MM in arbitration next year while Tellez is pushing $6MM.
If a Tellez non-tender comes to pass, prior to the Bauers acquisition, the top first baseman on the depth chart would've been Owen Miller. That's hardly an ideal situation.
With the savings at first base by non-tendering Rowdy Tellez, the Milwaukee Brewers could look to bring in a higher price free agent first baseman, or see if Carlos Santana is down for playing an age 38 season. Santana certainly didn't look like he was 37 when he came over to the Brewers at the trade deadline and looked like he could handle playing first base every day and the Brewers could use Bauers as just a backup once in a great while when Santana needs a day off.
If the Brewers did go the Santana and Bauers route, it could free up money that they could then turn around and spend on the other corner at third base in free agency.