There are two reasons why Bauer to the Dodgers in 2021 makes the most sense.
So we’ve established that Bauer eventually wants to be a Dodger and that the financial desires match. That raises one last question: why 2021 instead of 2022 or 2023 or 2024?
1. The Dodgers provide Bauer his best destination to win the World Series
The Dodgers are going to be the favorites to win the World Series in 2021 even without Bauer. No matter what happens this postseason, the Dodgers are still going to be the most talented team top-to-bottom heading into next year.
Bauer obviously increases those odds. If they win in 2020 then a Bauer addition would have everyone talking about a potential back-to-back champion. If they don’t win in 2020, then Bauer could be viewed as that final piece for a 2021 World Series push.
Regardless, the Dodgers are his best bet. Sure, the San Diego Padres are an intriguing option and could be in the mix, but there really aren’t a ton of other contenders that seem like a fit. We’ve heard about the Yankees-Gerrit Cole conflict. He’s not going to the Astros, or a team like the Angels. The A’s and Rays can’t afford him. The White Sox could make sense, but that seems to be about it.
Oh, and apparently the Atlanta Braves won’t be an option now either … at least that’s what we think after reading between the lines.
2. This could be his only chance to pitch alongside Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw is a free agent after the 2021 season. This doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee he leaves the Dodgers, but the door is likely open if he wants to go play close to home in Texas.
It sounds trivial, but if I’m Bauer and I’m intent on only signing one-year deals, I’m taking my chance to pitch alongside Kershaw, the best pitcher of this generation, while he’s still in All-Star form.
Bauer is a really smart guy and could probably learn some things from Kershaw that help him for the rest of his career. Sure, he could be a Dodger in the future beyond 2021, but then he doesn’t get that chance to pitch alongside one of the best to ever do it.