There are only a handful of players in Major League Baseball worth $40 million annually – and I’m here to tell you right now, Trevor Bauer isn’t one of them.
But that didn’t stop the Dodgers from giving the reigning NL Cy Young winner a three-year, $102 million deal on Friday – making him the league’s highest-paid player in each of the next two seasons at $40 and $45 million, respectively. After watching the San Diego Padres dominate the offseason for months, Los Angeles came back swinging in a big way.
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Bauer, 30, has opt-outs after each year in the contract, allowing him to potentially dive back into the free agent pool as soon as next winter. Coming off a 2.7 WAR, 1.73 ERA 2020 campaign, the right-hander now adds a third former Cy Young winner to the Dodgers’ rotation, along with Clayton Kershaw and David Price.
The reigning World Series champs have had the NL West on lockdown for the last eight seasons, including representing the Senior Circuit in three of the last four World Series. Clearly, they aren’t satisfied and are ready to defend their title in 2021.
Now, clearly, I think Bauer has the potential and the skills to make the Dodgers a markedly better team. I just don’t think he’s worth $40 million. Still, you have to respect what he did manage last year, emerging as the best pitcher in the league.
It’s time for the Padres to walk the walk and back up their moves
If he can replicate that type of performance over the course of a 162-game season and into October, Los Angeles is in a good position and the Padres can’t miss a beat if they hope to dethrone them. And, don’t forget – San Diego made some moves of their own this winter, adding Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove to a group that already featured Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack – as well as a crop of elite pitching prospects.
I know saying the Dodgers are the favorites isn’t popular with Padres fans. I’m not telling you San Diego can’t knock them off, because they absolutely could. But until you walk the walk, talk is all it is. And while it’s been a fun winter of talking, the Bauer move is a nice reminder that there’s work to do this season to back it up.