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MLB Free Agent Profile: Trevor Bauer

One of baseball’s most exciting pitchers hits the open market

MLB: Game Two-Cincinnati Reds at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

For some baseball players, social media and interacting with the public can be too toxic and distracting. But for Trevor Bauer, just the opposite is true.

For Bauer, who owns his own athlete-driven media network called “Momentum,” 2020 marked his first full (if it can even be described as such) season with the Cincinnati Reds.

Originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bauer spent one Major League season out west before landing in Cleveland and spending six-and-a-half seasons with the Indians. A former All-Star pitcher and Cy Young candidate, Bauer was traded to the Reds in 2019 and posted just a 2-5 record in his first year in Cincinnati.

The good news for the impending free agent? He bounced back in 2020, going 5-4 with an MLB-best 1.73 ERA over 73 innings. Of his 11 starts, two were complete-game shutouts, which was also a league-best. He allowed just 14 earned runs on 41 hits, surrendering nine home runs and 17 walks while striking out 100 opposing batters. He finished with a league-best 5.1 hits per inning, while his WHIP (0.795) and ERA+ (276) were both AL-bests.

Signing Bauer provides a team with an incredible top-of-the-rotation starter who can be an impact player for several years to come. However, some teams might fear he is not worth the headache. Is that really a justifiable concern?

Perhaps. After all, no team should aggressively court a player if they don’t feel 100 percent comfortable in signing him. The big concern with Bauer is his filter on social media. His attack on a female college student—which he later apologized for—in 2019 was one of the stronger confrontations he has been a part of on Twitter, though it’s not the only one.

However, outside of the occasional counter-attacks he fires at critics—which become inexcusable if they cross the line, much like they did in the 2019 incident—who call out his actions, pitching styles, or the like, he has been a very positive presence. His love and passion for growing the game and making baseball more attractive to the younger generation is something that baseball has really never seen from an active player. In fact, he has had such a positive impact on this realm of baseball and its marketing that some fans and analysts have mentioned that Bauer would make a great commissioner of the league if he weren’t a player.

Long story short: yes, there are justifiable concerns about how he conducts himself on social media. His behavior isn’t for everyone and he has crossed the line in the past. But he has still impacted the game of baseball in a positive way. So even if a general manager is that concerned about how he conducts himself online, Bauer’s Twitter presence shouldn’t be a reason to turn away any teams.

Now, let’s get to the money.

The Reds extended an $18.9 million qualifying offer to Bauer on Sunday, meaning he can return to the team on a one-year deal for the aforementioned amount of money or reject the contract and hit the open market. If he signs elsewhere, the Reds will receive draft pick compensation.

Bauer will surely reject Cincinnati’s offer, despite what is expected to be a tough offseason for free agents. While he may receive a contract worth less than he deserves, he’ll surely still fetch more than $20 million annually.

Bauer has also mentioned that he could sign a one-year deal, though he’s certainly not limiting his parameters to such a contract.

Finally, it does not appear that Bauer has ruled out any specific teams, leaving him an open market of 30 prospective landing spots. One top team that comes to mind as a suitor for Bauer is the New York Mets, who might open their wallets and make a big splash under new ownership. The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are also expected to be interested, as are the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels are less likely but definitely remain in the mix as the market heats up.

Bauer is one of the best players in baseball and he will get paid like one this offseason. Time will tell if we’re talking closer to one year at $20 million or five years at $125 million, but one thing is clear: one of the most exciting pitchers in the league is about to cash in.