Dodgers: Does Trevor Bauer have a legitimate reason to opt out after 2021?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 31: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 31: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Dodgers are fresh off being no-hit by the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, so fans probably want to discuss literally anything else.

Unfortunately for them, this subject won’t make them feel any better.

We’re referring to the future of Trevor Bauer, who impressed in his last start vs the Padres on Wednesday, surrendering three earned runs on five hits and four walks, to go with 10 strikeouts over six innings in a game the Dodgers ultimately dropped 5-3 thanks to their bullpen.

It was the second consecutive strong outing for Bauer after a concerning three-start stretch between the end of May and early June in which he logged a 4.74 ERA.

It’s currently unclear whether Bauer has a long-term future with the Dodgers, but MLB Trade Rumors recently posed the question of whether he might opt out after 2021.

That got us thinking: does Bauer have a real reason to opt out?

Could Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer opt out after 2021?

The timing of this is particularly noteworthy, as MLB has cracked down on the use of foreign substances among pitchers. Just this week, we’ve seen a handful of hurlers make an absolute mockery of MLB’s between innings check and Bauer’s spin rate has dropped considerably since the league first announced it was going to randomly check pitchers during games.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the average spin rate on Bauer’s four-seam fastball (which he throws 44% of the time) in his two starts after June 3 (not including Wednesday) was 210 RPM lower than the average RPM for his four-seamer in a dozen starts before then.

If you asked us this earlier in the season before Bauer’s spin rate started dropping and he put together 12 straight starts (137.2 innings) in which he allowed no more than three earned runs, he was probably giving serious thought to testing the free agent market again.

Now, however, teams are going to question how much of Bauer’s success was attributed to saturating his baseballs with foreign substances. When you consider that the reigning NL Cy Young would leave $32 million on the table in 2022, he’d likely be better served staying put.

On top of that, if Bauer opted out after 2021, he would, according to the terms of his contract, walk away with $12 million and have to wait 10 years for the Dodgers to pay him again. After all, he’d defer $20 million of this year’s salary without interest…which will be paid in chunks of $2 million at a time each Dec.1 from 2031 to 2040. That’s 20 years down the road, folks.

Obviously a lot can change between now and the end of the season, but for now it seems like Bauer’s best bet is to remain with the Dodgers through next campaign.

How would we feel about that, Dodgers fans?