The Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to terms with Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, on a three-year contract worth $102 million. The deal contains opt-outs after the 2021 and 2022 seasons, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Bauer is projected to be the highest paid player in the game in each of the next two campaigns.
Bauer, who went to school at UCLA, was down to two teams -- the New York Mets and the reigning champion Dodgers -- before ultimately making his free agency decision on Friday to head home to Southern California. The Mets offered more money to try to seduce Bauer out choosing the Dodgers, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Bauer took to his YouTube channel to make the announcement:
Bauer, 30, was ranked by CBS Sports as the third best free agent available coming into the offseason, as well as the top overall starter. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Heading into the 2020 season, Bauer's career numbers held an uncanny resemblance to those posted by A.J. Burnett through the same period of his career. He created separation this season, amassing a 1.73 ERA and a 5.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 starts and 73 innings. Bauer has long had the stuff and, according to his press clippings, the intelligence to be a frontline starter. He's now put together the results supporting that notion in two of the past three seasons. Can he keep it up? That's one of a few questions teams will have to answer, beginning with how he improved his spin rate just a few years after implying it was possible only through the use of substances. Another one is whether he's compatible on a long-term deal. Bauer fell out of favor in both Arizona and Cleveland, and he hasn't always covered himself in glory on social media . Weather changes moods just as sure as Sturgill changes words ; if Bauer wants to follow suit, changing his perception into a staff leader in every sense of the term, then he'll need to do more than continue to pitch well.
It's worth noting that in 2019 Bauer tweeted more than 80 times about a college student, who reported his behavior to Twitter and to the Cleveland organization, which employed Bauer at the time. The student later told USA Today that she felt harassed by his behavior.
Bauer joins a Dodgers rotation that includes Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and a returning David Price. The Dodgers have to figure out who among Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin will be their fifth starter.
Over the last three seasons, Bauer has started 72 games and has amassed a 3.18 ERA (144 ERA+) and a 3.68 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He posted a 1.73 ERA in 2020, all the while averaging more than six innings per start with the Cincinnati Reds. In addition to his season and a half with the Reds, Bauer has also spent time with Cleveland and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He's made one All-Star team and has received Cy Young Award consideration twice. Since 2018, he ranks sixth in ERA, fourth in opponents' average, and fifth in strikeouts.
Bauer is the first major addition the Dodgers have made this offseason. Previously, Andrew Friedman had stuck to adding pieces to the bullpen, trading for Corey Knebel and signing the injured Tommy Kahnle to a multi-year pact. The Dodgers still need to address openings at third base and in left field, as Justin Turner remains a free agent and Joc Pederson has signed with the Chicago Cubs.
The highest average annual value ever handed out to a pitcher remains the $36 million given to Gerrit Cole last offseason. Bauer's $34 million AAV checks in at third, also behind the $35 million AAV Stephen Strasburg received last winter.