Trevor Bauer leveraged his passion for technology, pitch design and progressive training techniques into the 2020 National League Cy Young Award and a three-year, $102 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yet due to several missteps in his aggressive use of social media, Bauer spent a significant amount of his Thursday introduction as a Dodger working on his spin rate.
Bauer, the 30-year-old right-hander who grew up just north of Dodger Stadium, is the latest gem in a star-studded Los Angeles rotation that will roll seven deep in defense of its 2020 World Series title. The Dodgers’ pursuit was not met with universal applause among their fans, due in part to Bauer’s occasionally toxic use of social media, which included extended harassment of a college student and citing debunked conspiracy theories.
So while there were plenty of smiles at a virtual press gathering taped under gorgeous February skies at Dodger Stadium, there was also a fair amount of word salad on the menu, with Bauer acknowledging past missteps while referring, non-specifically, to efforts made to better himself.
“I’ve made mistakes in the past,” Bauer said when asked if he’d continue a previously-stated vow to “fight back” against Twitter sparring partners. “I continue to (seek different perspectives). I don’t think this is the forum to go into specifics on how that will happen. I think it’s a very nuanced issue.
“All I can say is I’m committed to being a positive member of the community, impact peoples’ lives in a positive way and winning with this organization. I think that’s what today is about on my end – trying to be involved in all different ways I can be – both on the field, in the community and the clubhouse.”
Bauer’s contract includes opt-outs after each of the next two seasons, and he said he preferred the shorter term of the contract so that either party wouldn’t be wedded too long – either he as the pitcher or the Dodgers should Bauer’s performance slip.
Neither expect that to happen: The Dodgers’ proprietary use of analytics in player development is likely unmatched in the major leagues, and Bauer said the franchise’s ability to integrate it all – “the simple ways that complex information can be communicated is really impressive,” he said – will be continued selling points.
And while it’s tempting to term Bauer’s romp through the NL a pandemic-season anomaly, it’s probably more accurate to say the Dodgers are getting a smarter, more physically capable pitcher than Bauer was in his previous six full seasons.
As for emotional maturity?
“I’m not going to go into specifics with conversations I’ve had with people across all walks of life the last couple of years,” says Bauer, “and all the things I’ve learned. I can say that I’ve learned from those. I’ve spent a lot of time going and talking to people and trying to understand other perspectives.
“I’m doing my best to be better. I don’t think it makes sense to dive into specific issues in this forum, but I am committed to being better on social media, better on the field, better in the clubhouse and better in life in general.”
If the past week’s discourse is any indication, Bauer’s biggest challenge may not be within the white lines but rather the 280 characters of his preferred medium.