The Seattle Mariners have a storied recent history of taking fliers on post-hype top prospects, with varying degrees of success. The newest member of that club is 1B/OF Jake Bauers, a now thrice-traded former Top-50 prospect, who Seattle acquired Thursday morning from Cleveland for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Bauers had been designated for assignment by Cleveland recently after slashing .190/.277/.280 for a 56 wRC+ in 113 plate appearances this year.
Bauers started his career as a 7th round pick by the San Diego Padres, but traded barely a year later to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of a three team deal best known for sending Wil Myers to the Padres and Trea Turner to the Washington Nationals. A few years later, Bauers was a top-100 and even top-50 prospect by some evaluators, with a contact-heavy approach and the athleticism to handle corner outfield while playing a plus defensive 1B. Yet after his rookie season he was shipped to Cleveland in another three team deal, heading to Cleveland in a move Mariners fans might recognize more as the Carlos Santana-Edwin Encarnacíon trade.
Unfortunately, it was an ignominious beginning, middle, and finish for Bauers in Cleveland, who was unable to translate his potential offensively, struggling to deliver the power needed for a subpar corner outfielder/decent gloved first baseman hybrid despite good walk numbers and passable strikeout rates. He’s had some promising traits in 2021, with a 29.2% line drive rate and almost all his contact coming fairly firm off the bat, but a lot of pop ups and a .239 BABIP spelled the end for his time in Cleveland, despite that club’s dearth of offensive talent. In Seattle, he’ll have at least a bit of time to showcase, with Evan White likely to get a lengthy rehab assignment and perhaps even a full option to Tacoma, but it’ll be an uphill battle to claw extra playing time as another left-handed hitter on a hilariously lefty-heavy M’s roster. Bauers is out of minor league options, so whatever he can show, he’ll have to show quickly.
The 30 year old Mayfield was a waiver claim previously, and could feasibly clear waivers to extend the depth in Tacoma, but he still has minor league options, making him a flexible depth utility piece for other clubs that may see him claimed. Bauers is in the game and starting at first base right now in Detroit, having driven straight from Cleveland Wednesday night. He got a hit in his first at bat.