1. Don’t Out-Smart Yourself in Free Agency
And what did they do with the money that came off the books from all the aforementioned depth pieces? They spent $103 million on a pitcher you will never see again!
To make matters worse, they got into a bidding war with the Mets over Trevor Bauer, who then announced his decisions like a tween taking the stage for a middle school talent show. Absolutely embarrassing.
Bauer, prior to his Cy Young season in the shortened 2020, was a perennial 4.00 ERA pitcher. He had well-documented character issues, stemming from his online behavior, on-field antics (remember he threw the ball over the center field wall in Kansas City after he was removed from a start?), and weird off-field stuff (cut his hand on a drone during the 2016 World Series which undoubtedly hurt the Indians’ chances of taking down the Cubs).
But the Dodgers turned a blind eye. They liked the increased spin rate and unchecked cockiness that saw Bauer rise during baseball’s most trying season in decades. They figured they could pay a premium price for two or three of his prime years and then be done with the commitment. And all they got was 17 starts before sexual assault allegations sidelined him for the remainder of the season in late June. Now, his $45 million salary for the 2022 season is dark cloud hanging over the front office’s head.
Moral of the story? Spend more shrewdly. This was very much not a Dodgers-esque acquisition. Just look at their history of doling out big money contracts. They’re few and far between, and they’re calculated. Their move to sign Bauer felt like a desperate attempt to build a modern day super team when it was totally unnecessary. They could’ve kept Alex Wood and signed someone like Robbie Ray or Anthony DeSclafani for a fraction of the price and gotten better production. Those are usually the kind of moves they make.
Let’s get back to that, then. Blockbuster moves are cool, but they have to be the right ones. Mookie Betts was just that. Bauer was a sad attempt to follow that up and it wasn’t even necessary because of the deep rotation that had already existed (before it all came crashing down).