If all goes well this offseason, ex-Los Angeles Dodgers payroll commitment Trevor Bauer will be moving on from baseball and reinvesting in a top-notch camera on a troll’s budget so he can keep his web series going.
The bad news? Bauer opted into his contract for 2022 (of course he did), prepared to fight The Man to get what’s his.
The good news? If the criminal investigation ends in a way that’s, uh, not sympathetic to Bauer, MLB will void that contract, and the Dodgers will have $32 million worth of base salary to play around with for both 2022 and 2023.
$32 million can pay for an awful lot, instead of what it’s currently paying for, which is a lot of awful.
For the moment, we’re choosing to live surrounded by joy and comfort this holiday season, and we’re going to occupy a world where all future commitments to Bauer get voided by a higher power. No matter what the courts decide, there were far more helpful ways to spend the money afforded to the right-hander last offseason.
At the time, the Dodgers were viewed as having an unimpeachable “super rotation,” and we all ignored the fact that they locked themselves into a bidding war with the Mets and the Mets alone. As it turned out, Steve Cohen’s Mets were supposed to be “different,” but they weren’t. The Dodgers lowered themselves to the depths of the sport only to see Clayton Kershaw and Dustin May go down, Tony Gonsolin and David Price be largely unable to contribute, and Walker Buehler and Julio Urías tire by October. A midseason trade for two months of Max Scherzer ended up not only being a luxury, but a necessity — and now, some are projecting his salary as high as $50 million annually.
The Dodgers might pay the price there (well, not that price, but a hefty one). They might also bring back Kershaw. If they have Bauer’s money to play with, they can use it to supplement those pursuits … or bring in these shiny new additions, considering Scherzer/Kershaw/Kenley Jansen might not even be enough depth.
Here are 3 ways the Dodgers can spend Trevor Bauer’s 2022 salary.
3. Andrew Heaney ($8.5 million) and Justin Verlander
We’re baking Andrew Heaney into this offseason pie mostly because we’re having trouble reckoning with the idea that he’d be taking anyone else’s money other than Bauer’s. We get it. The guy with the elite fastball spin is going to suddenly figure it out at the age of 31 after one more person tells him to stop throwing middle-middle. Robbie Ray used to strike out 245 people a year. Heaney’s never done that. If he’s the reason Kershaw walks, we riot.
But we digress.
In this scenario, Andrew Friedman has a lot more money to play with, so it’s totally OK that he jumped the gun and paid for everybody’s favorite project of the 2021-22 offseason. For the rest of the $32 million commitment … how about overpaying slightly for World Series champion Justin Verlander, who’s trying to exceed the $18.4 million Houston owes him via the qualifying offer?
$23 million for two years could be enough to woo JV in the Max Scherzer role — and if they can get Scherzer, too, what a coup! A very Dodgers-like coup, instead of attempting to scratch and claw.
Verlander, at his worst, will probably hit 94 or 95 while attempting to regain his control in April and May. The first few months back from Tommy John are typically the hardest.
At his best? He’ll be a bonafide ace. He’s one of the unquestioned greatest in recent MLB history, and he has a Tom Brady-like desire to pitch until the age of 45. Is anyone willing to go on record doubting him?
You could certainly find worse uses for found money.