LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trevor Bauer was lured to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers after doing his own intel by talking to some of the organization’s former players.
“I haven’t heard a single negative thing,” the current NL Cy Young Award winner said Thursday. “Everyone has glowing reviews.”
The Dodgers’ take on Bauer? “Incredibly positive,” according to Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations.
The public’s opinion? Mixed reviews.
Off the field, Bauer has committed gaffes and been involved in multiple controversies on social media where he has a huge following and is actively involved in creating and writing content for his channels.
In the process of choosing the defending World Series champions, he managed to tick off New York Mets fans, and he’s already scolded an autograph-seeking Dodgers fan for invading his privacy in the public space of a hotel.
Bauer was introduced on the field at Dodger Stadium, accompanied by manager Dave Roberts and Friedman. The right-hander donned a No. 27 jersey after signing a three-year deal.
Some Dodgers fans have expressed displeasure online about Bauer’s signing. Not because of his on-field performance — his 1.73 ERA led the NL last year — but because of his online behavior.
Two higher-profile incidents both involved women, including a college student who accused Bauer of harassing her online. Bauer tweeted the student “was obsessed with me.”
“I’ve learned from those. I’ve spent a lot of my time going and talking to people to try to understand other perspectives,” he said on a video call without detailing specifics. “I’m doing my best to be better. I am committed to being better on social media, being better on the field, being better in the clubhouse, being better in life in general.”
Friedman said that in pursuing Bauer, he and team president Stan Kasten had multiple conversations with the 30-year-old pitcher, his former teammates and previous organizations.
“There is some stuff that’s more public with Trevor that definitely was something that we wanted to dig into,” Friedman said. “In our conversations, he’s alluded to past mistakes he’s made. We came away from it feeling good about it. Now, obviously, time will tell but I feel like he’s going to be a tremendous add, not just on the field, but in the clubhouse and the community.”
Mets fans felt they’d been trolled by Bauer when a link on his social channels was posted incorrectly last Friday, leading them to believe he’d decided to sign with New York. He apologized in a lengthy post.
“I was not trying to lead any fan base on or give anybody false hope,” he said Thursday.
Since arriving in Los Angeles, Bauer went online to chastise an autograph seeker. A man he called an “excited” Dodgers fan followed him through his hotel lobby to the elevator. Bauer said he wouldn’t sign in the hotel, but the fan could try again if he spotted the pitcher outside.
“I love seeing fans in public,” Bauer said. “I do just think there needs to be a little bit of respect for personal space when someone is at their place of residence, just as human beings. We are people too.”
Bauer took a different approach in his first shot at free agency, signing a short-term deal that includes opt-outs.
“I don’t want to be a player that signs a long-term deal and towards the end is resented, either by the fan base, by the organization or on my end for having my performance slip,” he said.
“As far as security goes, I’m well aware of the fact that I’m very well compensated. It wasn’t about the money for me. It’s about being a part of something that’s bigger than myself, being a part of an organization that can win. I want to win a World Series. I’ve come in second both in college and the big leagues. I’m tired of it.”
He was 5-4 and recorded 100 strikeouts in 11 starts for Cincinnati during the pandemic-shortened 60-game season last year. In 2018, he was an All-Star for Cleveland. He’s also pitched for Arizona. He is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA over nine major league seasons.
Bauer has made noise about wanting to pitch every fourth day, something that was the norm in baseball throughout the 1970s before teams expanded to five-man rotations by the mid-’80s.
“Me wanting to pitch every fourth day is not a selfish thing,” he said. “I have a lot of reasons behind why I feel like I would be a better pitcher doing that, which would help the team and how it may help other players in the organization and on the team as well. I don’t make those decisions, obviously.”
In signing with the Dodgers, Bauer returns to a stadium where he attended games as a kid with his father, listening to Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully’s call through headphones. He was born in North Hollywood, attended high school in Santa Clarita and played baseball at UCLA. But he said his decision was about more than just locale.
“A lot of people have told me, ‘If you can play for the Dodgers, you should. It’s first class, the best that I’ve ever experienced,'” Bauer said. “I’m just excited to be here for those reasons.”
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