Why Atlanta Braves have decided to Sign a Deal with Trevor Bauer…

Should the Atlanta Braves sign Trevor Bauer?

Should the Atlanta Braves sign Trevor Bauer? - Sports Illustrated Atlanta  Braves News, Analysis and More

There’s not an easy answer on this one, because there’s both competitive concerns and off-the-field questions.

One of the missions for GM Alex Anthopoulos as he approaches the offseason for the Atlanta Braves has been to upgrade the starting pitching.

Owing to injuries to Kyle Wright and Charlie Morton, Atlanta ran out Max Fried for only his second start in a month (due to an absence for a blister) for game two and then a struggling Bryce Elder for game three.

And with the news that Wright’s also going to miss all of 2024 after shoulder surgery, it’s believed that Atlanta’s going to go out and prioritize adding a frontline starter…even IF Charlie Morton returns on a $20M club option for his age 40 season.

And one of the names most commonly floated around by fans has been Trevor Bauer.

The 2020 National League Cy Young winner with the Cincinnati Reds, he was 17 starts into a three-year, $102M pact with Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021 before a sexual assault allegation and a MLB suspension unceremoniously ended his season and, ultimately, his Dodgers tenure. He pitched in Japan last season after no MLB team offered him a contract for 2023.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of signing Trevor Bauer if you’re the Atlanta Braves.

Why would you want to sign Trevor Bauer?

From a baseball perspective, this is easy, right? He’s got a 83-69 career record with a 3.79 ERA, which is solidly a floor of a #3 pitcher in MLB. And he’s recently removed from winning the Cy Young after a dominant, albeit short, 2020 season: 5-4, 1.73 ERA and 0.795 WHIP.

Bauer Reinstated to Baseball Via Arbitrator

While he didn’t show the ceiling to live up to his top prospect status over the first few years of his career, his 2021 campaign was more in line with the Cy Young season, with a 2.59 ERA and 8-5 record over his first 17 Dodgers starts prior to be placed on the restricted list and ultimately released.

So based on his previous performance, he’d be somewhere between a #3 and #2 pitcher for Atlanta, but (theoretically) at a much lower contract amount than equivalent options on the free market.

A previous proponent of one year deals and “betting on himself”, Bauer signed for three years and $102M with the Dodgers, giving himself player option for the 2022 and 2023 seasons for maximum leverage.

Theoretically, the contract situation for Bauer now would be significantly different.

He’s not leveraging a Cy Young victory to get the highest possible salary, he’s attempting to get back into MLB. A shorter term deal with a modest AAV seems most likely in this scenario. I could see a team offering $15M on a one-year deal, or perhaps $20M on a two-year deal, and he may attempt to negotiate either a player option or, more likely, an opt-out in case he does return to frontline starter form.

(And financially, he’s doing fine. He spent the entire 2023 season pitching in Japan for a maximum of $4M while also receiving his full Dodgers salary for 2023. He’s estimated to have earned $104M over his 13 seasons in professional baseball.)

The delta – the space between his level of pay and his on-field performance – has the possibility of being quite significant in this case.

Why would you NOT want to sign Trevor Bauer?

It’s a distraction, and potentially a big one.

We’re deliberately not going to go into full details of the accusations against Bauer, but there were multiple accusations, related to sexual matters and violence, from multiple women levied against him that prompted the record-length 324 day MLB suspension under its domestic violence policy (lowered to 194 on appeal).

DISCLAIMER: Bauer has not formally been charged with any crime. In most of the situations, the relevant authorities have declined to formerly issue charges. The only legal proceeding to come out of the allegations, a restraining order hearing against Bauer in California, was a win for his side, and he has paid no money to settle any of these cases.

But despite the lack of formally being charged with a crime, there is a significant percentage of fans that have a negative opinion of him and do not want him to play in MLB at all, nevermind for their team.

Outside of the assault allegations, there’s always been conversation and discussion that he can…rub some teammates the wrong way in the clubhouse. He’s been described as “brutally honest” and “blunt”, with unconventional training methods and a contempt for those who insist he do things any way but his own. Tensions between him and manager Terry Francona in Cleveland were supposedly why he was made available via trade, and he was occasionally referred to as “MLB’s most hated man” prior to any of the accusations and suspension.

Trevor Bauer reinstated, Dodgers now have decision to make on pitcher

He’s beefed with the commissioner and MLB about “sticky stuff”, has a history of harassing others, especially women, on social media, and waded into politically charged subjects at times, including the name of the Cleveland Indians.



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