It isn’t often that the reigning World Series champions manage to snag the reigning Cy Young winner in the offseason, especially when said team doesn’t lose any rotation pieces in the process, but that’s exactly what the Los Angeles Dodgers did when they signed Trevor Bauer last week.
The Dodgers staff is looking a little crowded at the moment, but that’s never a problem when there are three Cy Young winners in the rotation (the one you’re forgetting is David Price).
Though he resides in Texas, Bauer is an LA native, starring at Hart High School in Santa Clarita and later at UCLA. Bauer established himself as one of the most dominant college pitchers in recent memory with the Bruins, and was selected by the Diamondbacks third overall in what we now know to be a very stacked 2011 draft.
However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Bauer. Despite growing up in LA, Bauer idolized Tim Lincecum, and admired the way the two-time Cy Young winner was able to maximize his velocity with an unorthodox throwing motion. The delivery Bauer developed allowed him to throw hard with minimal strain on his elbow, but his violent mechanics led to inconsistency in his control. He’s since ironed out a few kinks and adopted a slightly more conventional delivery, but was sent down several times early in his career, and even led the league in walks with the Indians back in 2015.
Bauer had the reputation of being a bit of a black sheep among his teammates due to his unorthodox training and warmup techniques, but many of his philosophies have now become more or less the industry standard. He has become the poster boy for the biomechanics and data-driven approach to pitching that has seen widespread popularity during the Statcast era. Training facilities such as Driveline, where Bauer trains in the offseason, have been popping up everywhere with more and more players wanting to maximize their efficiency, and I bet a lot of them have Trevor Bauer to thank for their newfound success. Several players have used a Bauer-like approach to resurrect or take the next step in their careers as well.
Another interesting facet of Bauer is his media company, Momentum. Very much a product of the “make baseball fun” movement, Bauer created Momentum in an effort to modernize the perception of baseball by giving fans a unique player-centric experience. I think the Los Angeles-Momentum relationship will be a mutually beneficial one. I’m not saying he’s going to sell a ton of “Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer” t-shirts in LA, but the prospects of his big market teammates joining him for Live At-Bats or Bauer Bytes is certainly intriguing.
His quirkiness might not be what we immediately associate with star Hollywood athletes, but Bauer’s big personality should fit right at home in LA. The Dodgers organization is no stranger to outspoken or larger-than-life personalities with the likes of Yasiel Puig (who recently signed with Luba Sports, the same firm as Bauer), Manny Ramirez, and Tommy Lasorda already having walked through their doors. I’m not saying that Bauer doesn’t come without baggage, whether it’s a drone mishap, a feud with MLB on Twitter, or his overall loud persona on social media as well as a bit of a troubling following, but the Dodgers and their fans might be more equipped to handle his shenanigans than most other clubs.
Bauer is both the embodiment and antithesis of a big-time Los Angeles athlete. He’s fresh off a dominant Cy Young season, but has been league average and downright ineffective at times. Spending big money on a 30-year-old pitcher who has had a string of just 39 very good starts would normally raise a lot of red flags. However, Bauer is not a normal pitcher. Antics aside, he meticulously takes care of his body and is always making adjustments, which could mean he’ll age more gracefully than most pitchers.