He has so far failed to live up to the hype.
Bauers struggled on his way to posting a -0.7 WAR in 2019 and did not make a single appearance with the team last season.
Now he is out of minor league options and seeking a full-time role with the big league club.
Several Indians beat reporters shared some quotes from manager Terry Francona about how Bauers is now being strictly evaluated as a first baseman this spring.
“In the past, we’ve moved him from left to first — and for obvious reasons,” Indians manager Terry Francona said, as shared by Mandy Bell of MLB.com. “Right now, we just told him to play first. Be the best first baseman you can be, and then if we need to communicate something to him as camp goes on, we will.”
This is now the most important year in the young man’s professional career.
Jake Bauers launches a HR as the 🍒 on top for the CYCLE
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) June 15, 2019
Bauers Back at First Base
Bauers was primarily a first baseman with the Tampa Bay Rays before being traded to Cleveland.
His deal eventually turned into a three-team deal that saw Carlos Santana head back to the Indians.
Thus, Bauers was bumped from his spot and forced to the outfield.
He now appears to be in a direct competition with Josh Naylor, who is also looking to shift over from the outfield.
All Bauers needs to do is provide adequate defense at first base.
The real focus is on what he does at the plate.
It is tough to evaluate him properly because he has only played in 213 MLB games.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) January 13, 2021
The last 117 of those came in 2019 when Bauers was thrown into the fire on a contending team.
He had 115 strikeouts that year while slashing .226/.312/.371.
However, growing pains were expected.
The problem was the Indians were actively looking to compete and him developing at the plate was taking too long.
A Fresh Start for Bauers
Bauers is indeed getting another shot with the Indians.
But if he looks terrible at first base or is struggling on offense, he will be on his way out for what would be considered a bust of a trade.
Bauers being out of minor league options makes him one of the most intriguing players to watch in spring action.
And not everything about his MLB experience was bad.
He has 38 doubles in parts of two seasons and has 99 walks in that span as well.
A high strikeout total is expected from young players and the hope is he used the time at the alternate training site last year to work on his most glaring issues at the plate.
Spring is a time of new beginnings.
Bauers joins a list of players looking to prove they belong on the Indians roster in 2021.