When Trevor Bauer signed a three-year, $102MM deal with the Dodgers back in February, he ensured flexibility by securing opt-outs after the first and second years. However, the details suggest the contract was designed to keep Bauer in Los Angeles for the first two seasons.
Bauer received a $10MM signing bonus, $5MM of which was paid in March. The other $5MM will be paid next month. Beyond that, his 2021 salary is $28MM, but with the quirk that it’s all payable on November 1st of this year. Here’s what happens if he opts out after the 2021 season, according to Cot’s:
Bauer may opt out of the contract after the 2021 season, receiving a $2M buyout, with Dodgers deferring $20M of 2021 salary without interest, paid in $2M installments each Dec. 1, 2031-40
In other words, if Bauer opts out after this season, he walks away with $12MM in hand, and then has to wait a decade until the Dodgers pay him again. And even then, it’s $2MM per year for ten years, with no interest. Your estimates may vary, but that deferred $20MM is worth a lot less than being paid now – most likely half as much.
Opting out after the 2022 season involves none of that deferred money stuff, and throws in a $15MM buyout. Bauer would have earned $85MM for two seasons, foregoing a mere $17MM for ’23. Barring injury, jumping out of the contract at this point seems like an easy choice. As the best pitcher on the free agent market, Bauer landed a very flexible contract. The Dodgers took on all the downside risk, which is the nature of opt-out clauses.
Bauer started this season strong enough to at least give another look to the possibility of opting out after ’21. After an outing at San Francisco on May 21st, Bauer’s ERA sat at 1.98 through 12 starts, with a 36.2 K%. If you had asked me at that point, I’d have said it’d make sense for Bauer to opt out after ’21, even if just to land the same three-year deal all over again. But on the horizon was a hallmark date with a potentially large effect on Bauer and many other pitchers. On June 3rd, Bob Nightengale wrote, “Major League Baseball informed owners Thursday that it is engaged in the next phase of league-directed enforcement banning the use of foreign substances by pitchers — which would include 10-day suspensions — two persons with direct knowledge of the meeting told USA TODAY Sports.” Today, MLB announced its new enforcement plan, which starts Monday.
Through May 31st, Bauer averaged 2840 RPM and 93.8 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball. In the two starts since, those numbers are 2630 RPM and 94.1 mph. There are players who have lost more RPM on their four-seamers since the impending crackdown became known, without much velocity change, such as the Indians’ James Karinchak. But Bauer’s 210 RPM loss on the four-seamer is significant, especially for a guy who throws the pitch 44% of the time.
All we can say definitively is that the average spin rate on Bauer’s four-seam fastball in two starts after June 3rd was 210 RPM lower than the average RPM in a dozen starts before that date. That the RPM drop was caused by Bauer stopping the usage of foreign substances on the ball or changing what he uses is the implication, but not a fact. It’d take a further leap to say that Bauer’s mediocre results in those two starts were caused by the RPM drop. It should be noted that 2630 RPM still ranks sixth in baseball from June 3rd onward, and there’s nothing too meaningful about allowing seven earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. It’s also worth pointing out that Bauer’s ERA was probably not going to stay around 2.00 even without a foreign substance crackdown. Bauer certainly has not shied away from MLB’s sticky stuff drama, as he “demonstrated to reporters on the field before Tuesday’s game that a combination of sweat and rosin was sufficient to allow him to stick a baseball to his hand, palm down,” according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register. He showed this on Twitter, while also diving into Tyler Glasnow’s comments.
If you’re an MLB GM considering signing Bauer at some point in the future, you’re definitely going to try to determine how much of Bauer’s recent success was the result of the use of foreign substances, because you have to forecast how he’ll perform over the next several years. If this was a major consideration for Bauer’s suitors in the 2020-21 offseason, I didn’t hear about it. For Bauer and potential suitors, the calculus has changed. So let’s get your opinions on when we’ll see him next on the free agent market.
No shot, he clearly parlayed his spider tack shenanigans into this mega deal, as he clearly displayed on his YouTube channel. He’s gonna stink from here on out.
The first perfect screen name.
Definitely aptly named, despicable.
He’ll sign with the Mets
we dont want him or need him!!
Of course you do. You are the Mets.
How about the cross town rivals tying up another $300m for eight years? Would love it.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Trevor Bauer – can you spell KARMA?
Kind of a sticky situation.
Fever Pitch Guy
I think it’s pointless to have these types of “what-ifs” so early in the season. Barely a third has been played, so much can happen prior to his making the decision.
We could wait until after he makes his decision, but the speculation is always better done in advance.
he shouldn’t, but he’s absurdly cocky so he will.
He doesn’t need to opt out to use that cockiness and try to cajole an extension out of the team IF his performance backs it up.
Even if it’s only a 4-5 year extension, nothing says he needs to opt out to convince LA to rework things.
i dont disagree, i just dont think that’s what will happen. opting out allows him to field offers from anyone, which seems to be his MO.
Let’s see how the season goes. If he helps the dodgers win a real championship and not a * championship… than maybe he could get a huge contract. I’m sorry dodger fans but winning a 60 game seasons will have no one take it seriously… still haven’t won in decades.
Agreed. Everyone talks about the 1995 strike but at least the Braves played a reasonable number of games (144). 60 games is barely a third of a season. I can’t take anything under 100 games seriously and anything between 100 and 120 is still a gray area.
The Dodgers have won more recently than the Mets even if you don’t count last year.
That is a true statement. But both are basically about the same.
The Mets couldn’t even make the 8 team playoff where a club under .500 got in. But sure it’s the Dodgers who deserve the flak.
LA did everything they were expected to do including win an extra playoff round. It counts.
Lol. I’m lifelong Dodger fan as is my dad, and you’re wrong: it’s got a big fat asterisk by it.
So you’re not biased against and that is good. But there are many knucklehead fans of every team. This is likely moreso for teams with a larger fan base.
Nah, you are not a lifelong Dodger fan. Your dad might be. 2020 was probably one of the toughest years to win a WS, for a myriad of reasons. Dodgers led wire to wire, went through incredible playoff series, after playoff series and beat the best the American League’s best in six games.
I’m definitely not a Dodgers fan and neither was my dad but the WS counts. You can put your special star next to it if it makes you feel better though
Exactly. Not only was there an extra round but sheer stupidity of MLB to make it a best of three series. Any bad team can beat a good team in a three game series. Randomizes the playoff route at the expense of the favorites. MLB dodged some bullets as most of the favorites won the opening round. But can you imagine if a couple of the favorites like the Dodgers lost the three game series?
@MetsFan, and @48-team Mmmm,.. no. Try again.
It was 37 percent of a season. It would be like the NFL playing six games or the NBA playing 30. It’s not a legitimate sample size.
everyone played 37% last year. the playing field was even.
Even playing field?? Kinda like how every team in baseball was cheating yet only one team gets all the blame? Or like how every team gets to spend the same amount of money, regardless of how big or small the media market is?
The playing field was even for the circumstances but you cannot compare 162 to 60
Doesn’t matter. The seasons and playoffs were played, they won. Asterisk all you want, but it doesn’t change the outcome. And I’m not a dodgers fan. You play the schedule you’re given and they won. Pretty simple.
I see the Astros fans are checking in. “But everyone cheats.” No, actually, they don’t. Looking for advantage does not compare to what the Astros did in 2017. Tell you what, take the trophy from the Astros and call 2017 a season without a winner. Then, we can argue about 2020.
Ryan Spaeder is not a fan of the Astros.
Still better than the 0 rings the Mets got last year… oh and we aren’t wasting the best years of our ace on a crap team either
Angels & NL West
I feel bad for deGrom wasting his prime years on a struggling Mets team.
An Angels’ fan feels bad for a star player wasting his prime years on a struggling team. Who said irony is dead?
I can guarantee that if the Mets had won the championship last year you would not be calling it a *championship. Get outta here with this nonsense.
If the Dodgers had qualified for the playoffs as one of the extra wild cards than maybe you could argue that it was a fake championship, but they were clearly the best team in the league in the regular season and then won it all. It’s a valid championship – I say this as a Jays fan.
60 game season isn’t legit. Period. There will ALWAYS be an asterisk.
Have we hurt your feelings on here a little much? Lol sorry but the truth does hurt sometimes.
But if the Mets had won in 60 games it would have been perfect right? Everyone played the same amount of games and under the same rules. In 81 the Dodgers won the WS in a strike shorten season and NO ONE ever mentions that season not being a full season. Bottom line is they won 4 playoff series and came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Braves and beat a great Rays team.
Winning a 60 game season will have no one take it seriously… just like no one takes the Mets seriously.
Asterisk is a stupid debate. If that is your argument you’re not arguing intelligently. Context here. The Dodgers were the clear favorites heading into the 2020 season. MLB was scared that a 60 game season could create randomness in playoff participants so they added an extra round, just in case a favorite like the Dodgers started off cold and didn’t have enough time to close in on a playoff berth. That backfired as the Dodgers had the best record in baseball.
So the favorites had the best record in baseball. Probably had a decent chance of breaking modern-era winning percentage record in a regular 162 game season due to their depth. They win the WS with an extra random (best of 3 series) playoff round. Where is there a reasonable argument for this WS not being legitimate? There isn’t one unless you’re a hater.
Someone had to win. Certainly wasn’t going to be the Mets.
This just sounds sad coming from a Mets fan.
The Dodgers went through the brewers, Padres, and Braves to finally beat the Ray’s for a championship. That was a regular postseason schedule and they did it. No matter how short the season was they had to beat all the best teams
The 2020 title wasn’t a fluke. The two teams with the best record in their respective leagues made it to the WS. A fluke would have been seeing a team like the Mets sneak in due to the abbreviated schedule.
Does he still lead the league with the highest percent of hits allowed as Homeruns?
If they’re solo shots, it doesn’t much matter – see Verlander, 2019
Depends how he pitches the rest of the season. A strong finish post the crackdown on “sticky stuff” would actually enhance his value.
That’s a valid point but it’ll be hard to pass up the 2022 money. He’d have to put up deGrom type numbers to take the opt out in my opinion.
Not going to be a free agent in a potential strike/lockout year and leave $40M on the table. for next year.
Unlikely. As the poster child for MLB’s crackdown on doctoring the ball opting out would be a gamble even the best card counter at the table likely wouldn’t take.
Player to be named in the future 2
Two words Trevor, Jacob DeGrom
Born in Hollywood, UCLA guy and he has not been the same the last four games. Only way I see him opting out is if he hates the mgmt or he is married and his wife hates LA.
He stays the three years. He will revert to being the pitcher he was for Cleveland. He’s dumb enough to opt out after two years though. Suspect his numbers from the rest of this year and next along with his behavior will not make him a coveted free agent if he opts out after next season.
stan lee the manly
He’s clearly cheating and every team knows he’s cheating after the way he’s flaunted it and he was nowhere near as good before he was cheating so…nope.
Hell no he won’t! Dodgers are married to this guy for the duration! How tiresome will his stickum free, candy ass, on and off field antics be after a couple 4+ ERA seasons??!!
As his numbers go South there’s no chance he opts out.
Just had this image of the ball getting stuck to Molina’s chest protector a while back on a ball in the dirt. Everybody shook their finger at the time but now it seems it was not because any single person was cheating….everybody is frickin dirty.
I think he will do LA a favor if he walks away.
I say no chance he opts out. I expect a major drop-off in his stats from here on out to the point that he can’t get the same money anywhere else, and the Dodgers get stuck paying every cent.
Did anyone else see Bauer’s interview before today’s game?
Nah, I didn’t think so.
I have and his hand looks near black after he’s done holding the baseball with “sweat and rosin”
That wasn’t the point of the demonstration. The point was to show that special substances aren’t necessary.
Are you saying his demonstration was to show he *doesn’t* or *hasn’t* used foreign substances?
In Bauer’s first 10 games he gave up a combined 17 runs with a 5-2 record.
In Bauer’s last 4 games he’s given up a combined 16 runs with a 1-3 record.
But the real test will be the next 10 games.
IMO there’s little chance he ends up walking away from 45mil for next season.
I think a decent chance he could have opted out after this season until the crackdown. Now the chances are very slim.
LMAO , 100% of Trevor Bauer’s game is predicated on the use of illegal/undetectable substances to increase his spin rate. With mlb cracking down hard on this, it’s all over for Bauer. He’ll milk every underperforming penny he can out of this wasted Lad contract.
More interestingly, and would love to see an article. Between Bauer contract and Betts extension, did the Dodgers just have the worst cold stove season in MLB history?
Says the Yankee fan who neglects to mention Cole.
Not a yankee fan. Just from the north.
No because he’s, at best, a MOR SP without foreign substances. After a hot start with whatever he wanted to rub the ball with, his era will rise above 3.50.
My Rangers, who aren’t hitting any pitcher these days, beat the crap out of Bauer over the weekend…
Bauer will soon be exposed as a fraud. He isn’t opting out of anything.
Seeing so many mentions of RPMs I had to check to make sure I wasn’t on nascarrumors.com.
No way he walks.
1-The possibility of a strike, which imo is low, but still there.
2-The possibility that teams will discount his production based on the tack.
3-His ‘real’ salary in 2022 is more like $62M (and Tim, you need to do the math). He gets a straight-up $32M. He gets a straight-up $15M to opt out. But the deferral factor is a bit higher. The PV of the $20M is worth $10M, as Tim mentions. But only if you receive it in 2031. If it is spread out over another 10 years, that $10M is only worth $5M.
So including his salary, opt out, and salary foregone, it is in the ballpark of $62M.
I agree I think he opts out the year after. Strike should be behind us, and teams will probably be looking to spend coming out of the pandemic as a full season of full fans comes back
I love all the shots at Bauer about the sticky stuff.
Let’s be honest here folks, whoever your favourite team is, whoever your fave pitchers are, they are also using grip enhancement, so let’s all get off the high horse here
yawn. same thing is said about sign stealing and steriods, and in this case it’s just as untrue.
No way he opts out. ‘Spiderman’ will be back to mediocre without his ‘spider tack’
The only way he opts out is if it has to do with luxury tax. Perhaps the dodgers need / want a little more space and they find a way to rework the deal but keep the cash payments the same. Maybe he signs the exact same deal but the third year of the new deal is for less but makes the original three years (2021-23) 125m. 40/45/40 with 2024 a player option at 10m or something.
He would be stupid to opt out. We’re seeing now that without spider tack he’s not the ace he’s paid to be, and more of the mediocre pitcher he was before in Cleveland and Cincy (season 1) No one will give him this sort of cash if his numbers keep sinking this season. As far as I’m concerned he robbed the Dodgers with that contract
no one robs the dodgers better than Jason Schmidt
The details of Bauer’s deal remain a bit mind-numbing in its deferments and complexity, but everything points to an exit post 2022, with a nifty $85M profit for Mr. Bauer.
I’d bet that he opts out after ’22 and the Dodgers let him walk.
His accountant say opt out after 2022.
he might opt out after 2021 – if he has a great season thinking he will get Scot Boras client #’s so that the 20 mil deferred will just be a nice bonus for later years in life.
The spin-rate issue might lower his numbers and therefore will leave him with no choice but to think towards 2022.
Everyone here is bickering… Am I the only person who sees bad math?
$10M signing bonus
If he opts out they defer $20M but he doesn’t walk away with $12M in hand he walks away with $20M for 2021. The whole idea was to feed his ego and make him the $40M man which is exactly what happens if he walks.
20 mil is deferred is opt out now and he wont see any of it for ten years and it will come in small segments for 10 years. the value of a dollar is likely much smaller by then too so he would be better having money now than later.
Am I the only person who sees bad math?
No, I laid out the math above, in a lot more detail,
well, THIS article has open comments
I would say the answer to this question is a resounding YES right about now.
For all the money these players make…does ONE of them ever stop to possibly use (just a bit of it…maybe a fraction?) And buy a functioning BRAIN?
TREVOR…dude. what the hell were you thinking?
Irregardless of how this circus/freak/sadist (whatever) show turns out?
He is done.
Baseball players (even at league minimum) make MORE THAN ENOUGH to know better.