The Trevor Bauer Free Agency Saga is over. After a silly few months of tantalizing speculation and haphazard tweeting, Trevor Bauer is taking his talents to California, signing a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That’s a lot of cash for someone with a career ERA of almost 4.00, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
At the end of the whole messy situation, the dust begins to settle, and Trevor Bauer has to put his monetary value where his mouth is. And that’s what he intends to do in 2021.
This is the question I have seen a lot of people trying to answer. It’s a matter of worth, value, and ability. And this will be what Trevor Bauer will be fighting against in 2021.
There’s no doubt that Bauer’s Cy Young season in 2020 was extraordinary. That’s a fact. You cannot fight it. His 1.73 ERA led the NL, as did his 0.795 WHIP, and as well as his two complete-game shutouts. However, the fact that Trevor Bauer was virtually unhittable lives in his hits-per-9 innings, which sits at an MLB best 5.055, is nuts. Even AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber had a hits/9 of 5.353.
This award is his to lose, from the moment voting started. But the question of a repeat performance is what’s being posed. What Trevor Bauer did the Dodgers sign to a $100 million dollar deal?
Prior to the 2020 season, Bauer had only finished one season with an ERA under 4.00, which was his final full season with Cleveland. Compared to his 2020 season, the numbers look similar. There’s a serious jump in strikeouts and a solid decrease in hits/9. That’s good news for Dodgers fans, right?
It might be, but a closer look tells us the odds of a backslide are good, especially considering how 2019 went for Bauer. Before being sent to Cincinnati midseason, Bauer went 9-8 with a 3.79 ERA, and a 1.213 WHIP. While those numbers are great for a mid-rotation arm, they begin to look like a backslide. Why? They’re sandwiched between two outstanding seasons, the latter of which won Bauer a Cy Young.
On the flip side, if we are to look at Bauer’s 2020 season, sample size does come into play, but not in the way you might think.
When looking at Trevor Bauer’s career splits, you’ll notice that the newest Dodger pitcher has a penchant for beginning seasons hot. In the first month of the season, Bauer has held opposing hitters to a .201/.302/.336 slash line throughout his career. Even his first half vs. second half splits favor the beginning of the season.
So while we can all discuss whether or not a small sample size or a shortened season is the real reason Bauer won the NL Cy Young in 2020, that feels short-sighted. Bauer was the best pitcher in 2020, but that might have been helped by his love for hot starts and the fact that he pitched against the anemic offenses in the Central divisions.
Adding more to the idea that Bauer likes to come in hot, is the notion that he was only going to sign a one year deal regardless of where he went. Even his deal with Los Angeles includes opt-outs after every year. Why?
Two reasons. First off, if Bauer can get his time in LA off to a hot start, he could turn that solid season into an opportunity to build on that momentum and sign another deal for even more money. It’s a business play, and it’s one that actually makes a lot of sense.
Or, it’s a way for him to duck out of town without having a large contract hanging over his head, should things go south. And that’s maybe the most important piece of this.
Trevor Bauer is outspoken both on the field and off. He’s gotten into beefs with hitters and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. However, the biggest issue with Bauer’s attitude might be his Twitter fingers and his history of harassing women online. All of that comes with the territory of signing Trevor Bauer. You can’t separate the man off the field from the man on the mound.
And because of that, he’s drawn the ire of fans across the league. Look at how Mets Twitter responded to narrowly losing out on signing him. The initial response wasn’t anger, but relief… then quickly followed by disgust. Trevor Bauer has to realize the pressure he’s put upon himself by putting together a LeBron style announcement. You know, the one he’s already apologized to Mets fans for.
That being said, Trevor Bauer now has to quite literally put his money where his mouth is.
Is Trevor Bauer worth the money? It’s unclear, but we’ll know soon enough.
If there’s one player who believes in themselves, almost to a fault, it’s Trevor Bauer. Name another player who has a team on call to breakdown his analytics. Name another player who tracks their own metrics. I can: Trevor Bauer.
For the last few years Trevor Bauer has had nothing to lose, staying out of the spotlight and quietly working his way to the top of his game. Now, as the 2021 season begins, he’ll have a target on his back and fans waiting for the decline. Will we see a failure to deliver in 2021 from Bauer?
If there’s something Trevor Bauer has to say about it, we will not.
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