After trading non-tender candidate Abraham Toro to the Oakland Athletics for a prospect, the Brewers are now on the opposite end of a similar deal. The club announced on Friday that it has acquired first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers from the New York Yankees in exchange for outfield prospects Jace Avina and Brian Sanchez.
1B/OF Jake Bauers has been acquired from the Yankees in exchange for outfielders Jace Avina and Brian Sánchez. pic.twitter.com/gbhPV71iDF— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) November 17, 2023
A lack of power hampered the Brewers’ lineup in 2023 and was partially responsible for the team’s quick playoff exit. Bauer has an underwhelming track record but provides plenty of pop.
After hitting just 27 home runs across his first three seasons in the big leagues, Bauers adjusted his stance and swing path after joining the Yankees organization midway through the 2022 season. He adopted a more closed and upright stance and flattened his bat path.
Bauers made some notable changes to his stance that produced more power. He's more closed and upright now. pic.twitter.com/RWowO5yzZg— Jack Stern (@ByJackStern) November 17, 2023
The changes paid off, as Bauers tied a career-high by hitting 12 home runs in just 272 plate appearances with the Yankees. Bauers more than tripled his barrel rate to 18.7%, which ranked eighth among hitters with at least 100 batted balls. He increased his hard-hit rate to 48.7% and posted a .490 xwOBA on balls in play.
Swing and miss is a glaring flaw in Bauers’ game. A 34.9% strikeout rate and 13.7% swinging strike rate contributed to a below-average 89 wRC+ despite his excellent quality of contact numbers.
Bauers is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and MLB Trade Rumors projects him to earn $1.7 million in 2024. The Brewers can control him through the 2026 season.
While far from a sure thing, Bauers supplies elite power potential for cheap. The Brewers can keep him for multiple seasons if things click or quickly cut ties if they don’t. The left-handed hitter is out of options and projects as a leading candidate to start at first base against right-handed pitching.
While his projected salary is insignificant, the Brewers did part with one of their Top 30 prospects to acquire Bauers. MLB Pipelined ranked Avina as Milwaukee’s No. 29 prospect. The 20-year-old has flashed impressive power in the lower minors at a young age, but his high strikeout rates are a concern.
The 19-year-old Sanchez is more of a lottery ticket, having just begun his professional career with the team’s rookie affiliate in 2023.