The Yankees are in need of another quality starting pitcher and, it just so happens, the Indians have one rumored to be on the block.
Trevor Bauer is perhaps the most talented pitcher bandied about on the trade market and he’s controlled through the 2020 season. The Cleveland right-hander was a top Cy Young candidate in 2018 and is just 28 years old, smack dab in his prime.
However, the Yankees should consider Bauer both on and off the field and look elsewhere for upgrades to the rotation.
I know what you’re thinking: Why should the Yankees forgo a potential boost to the rotation? Bauer is clearly that. Even in a down 2019, he still has a 3.69 ERA and has provided tremendous value as someone willing to go deep into games. He’s second to just Justin Verlander in innings pitched and is first in batters faced. Adding Bauer means less burden on your bullpen.
Furthermore, Bauer has one of the foremost minds about the science of pitching. He’s been a force in player development, as detailed in Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik’s book, The MVP Machine. He’s worked in the offseason to develop a strong repertoire and even helped teammates with adjustments. Rotation mates Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger credit him for some improvements on the mound.
But the reasons to avoid Bauer go beyond the mound; His actions off the field should preclude any trade to the Bronx.
The UCLA product was born with a foot in his mouth and can be charitably described as Very Online. More accurately, he’s been a bully with his Twitter account and veered towards misogynistic and racial comments with his brash personality.
I know too many people hurt by his rhetoric. I have too many friends who are POC for whom he’s an example of racism inherent in the game. I have too many friends for whom his type of homophobia scares them away.— Sheryl Ring ?⚾️?⚖️ “The Counselor” (@Ring_Sheryl) June 12, 2019
In a game where Trevor Bauer is the face, POC aren’t welcome.
He spent more than a full day straight this offseason harassing a woman on Twitter for no apparent reason. Despite saying he doesn’t vote, Bauer hasn’t been shy about expressing his disdainful political views. Bauer generally tries to hide behind the No. 69 and jokes of that ilk, but he’s proven himself incapable of representing a franchise. It’s not worth detailing all of his public comments, yet he’s had more than enough to warrant a second look.
Bauer can also be a negative in the clubhouse. He once wrote a rap song to bash his former catcher and has been labeled as a bad teammate in the past.
That’s not to say Bauer is the worst person in baseball. He’s not. I’m not going to make a value judgment on who is, but there are people who’ve committed domestic violence and heinous acts of physical violence. The Yankees even employ people with similar political views to Bauer — Baseball as a whole is filled with them — in addition to Aroldis Chapman, who was suspended for domestic violence prior to coming to New York.
But that doesn’t make Bauer’s public activities acceptable or any more worthy of acquisition. Bauer’s talent doesn’t outweigh that. In the coming weeks, Bobby will give you a more detailed evaluation of Bauer’s on-field production and status as a trade target — provided he isn’t traded beforehand — but his personality is one that isn’t fit to be a franchise leader, glossy media profiles aside.
That isn’t code for the media will eat him alive; While Bauer would no doubt be tabloid fodder for controversy, he isn’t apt to let public consternation affect his performance on the mound. Only drones can do that. Seriously though, there’s the chance that the Yankees see Bauer’s relationship with the media as a reason not to acquire him, just as when Zack Greinke’s social anxiety disorder made many believe he wanted to avoid a trade to the Yankees.
Bauer has the talent and brash self-will to survive in New York. Still, his history of public comments should be enough to nix him from the Yankees’ list of trade targets.