Pittsburgh Pirates: Debating Gambling on Trevor Bauer

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Trevor Bauer’s suspension from MLB has o been reduced and he is expected to potentially sign with a team before Opening Day. If he is released by the Dodgers, should the Pittsburgh Pirates take a chance on this controversial player?

Throughout his entire major league career, Trevor Bauer has been a very wild, and controversial character. From launching a baseball over the center field wall at Progressive Field after being pulled from the mound to his legendary beverage chugging and sword sheath strikeout celebrations, Twitter fights with reporters and players and being a big user of “sticky stuff” during the 2020 season, Bauer has been the talk of baseball and has been one of the most loved and hated baseball players in recent memory.

Many baseball fans and players believe that Bauer is a "cocky, overconfident locker room cancer", while others believe he is great for the game and is just passionate about his craft. Bauer’s image and reputation will forever be tarnished after he was accused of "S.A." back in 2021. Trevor Bauer was ultimately suspended from baseball for 324 games, becoming the longest non-lifetime suspension in MLB history. Back in February, Bauer’s ruling by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office stated that he would not face criminal charges.

Recently, Bauer was reinstated by the MLB, and his suspension was reduced to 194 games, allowing Bauer to play baseball effective immediately. With all that baggage in mind, is Bauer worth the headache for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Let’s take a look at his track record on the mound: Early on in his career, Bauer was a relatively average pitcher in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians. From 2013 to 2017, Bauer had a combined 4.32 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 688 strikeouts, 285 walks, and a 1.35 WHIP across 712.1 innings pitched. During his breakout 2018 campaign, Bauer posted a 2.21 ERA, 2.44 FIP, 221 strikeouts, only walked 57, and had a 1.09 WHIP in 175.1 innings pitched, finishing 6th in AL Cy Young voting and was an All-Star for the Indians.

After being traded to the Reds in a three-team trade in 2019, Bauer struggled immensely in Great American Ball Park compared to his time in Cleveland with a 6.39 ERA in 56.1 innings pitched. But, during the shortened 2020 season, Bauer had a career year, posting a 1.73 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, 100 strikeouts, only 17 walks, and a 0.79 WHIP across 73 innings pitched with the Reds. Even with a shortened season, Bauer won the NL Cy Young Award in 2020, which has been widely called the "Mickey Mouse Cy Young".

He became one of the most highly sought after starting pitchers in free agency that off-season. After being linked to the Mets during negotiations, Bauer signed a three-year, 102 million dollar deal with the Dodgers.

Bauer continued to post solid numbers in 2021 prior to his suspension, with a 2.59 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 137 strikeouts, 37 walks, and a 1.00 WHIP in 107.2 innings pitched and 17 starts. Compared to a lot of Pirate starters that we've had in the past, those are really solid numbers overall. The last time a Pirate starter pitched over 10 games and had below a 3.00 ERA was JA Happ during the 2015 season. Some would suggest that Bauer's success was due to using Spider Tack or other foreign substances, but almost all pitchers were using foreign substances before the league cracked down on that situation.

After being away from baseball for almost two seasons and due to the negative press that will haunt the team that signs Bauer, many GMs are hesitant to sign the former Cy Young winner. However, the Pirates could easily slide in and sign Bauer if contending teams are hesitant to tarnish their reputation.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been rebuilding for as long as I can remember, and maybe a small market team is what the talented 32-year-old Bauer needs to get back into the league. The Pirates already get negative press as it is, being one of the worst run organizations in all of sports by owner Bob Nutting, so it really can’t get much worse. If the Pirates sign Bauer, he is only allowed to make the league minimum in 2023 and the Dodgers would still be paying his remaining salary, so we would be getting a quality pitcher for barely anything. Even if Bauer is a ”locker room cancer”, he could easily be traded to a contender at the deadline and, hopefully, the Pirates would receive a quality package in return.

Many Dodgers players have openly stated that they do not want Bauer on the team, so he is most likely going to be released soon. It’s a high-risk, high-reward option and the Pirates still need an “ace level” starter at the top of the order, so Bauer could fill in that roll nicely. With Bauer leading off the rotation, the remaining options would be Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, Rich Hill, and whoever our 5th starter becomes; whether that’s JT Brubaker, Johan Oviedo, Vince Velasquez, or Zach Thompson. IF Bauer were to sign with the Pirates, all we would ask Bauer to do is eat innings at a high level until the trade deadline, that way we could get a quality return of prospects. Bauer and his agents are ready to get back into the game. Here's a statement from his agent Rachel Luba:

Do I realsitically see this happening? Not really, but anything is possible in the game of baseball; crazier things have happened. Do I want this to happen? I have mixed emotions about this. If Bauer gets his issues together and pitches well, I wouldn’t really have an issue signing him to a one-year deal just to be traded at the deadline. This is a hard topic to discuss, especially with the moral and ethical issues that come with this player. I don't condone anyone who would "S.A." someone, but since Bauer isn't facing criminal charges, I believe he should be given a chance to redeem himself professionally and personally. Humans make mistakes, and in Bauer's case REALLY big mistakes, but this is his chance to become a better person and rebuild his career. What are your thoughts on this potential move?

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Bauer is an acquired taste, you either love him or really hate the guy. Every team in baseball knows what kind of a person and player Bauer is, so no matter who signs him will have to deal with the positives and negatives that come with that decision.