An SF Giants division rival bolstered an already impressive starting rotation by adding the top starter on the free-agent market.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed right-handed hurler Trevor Bauer to a three-year, $102 million contract. This deal includes opt-out clauses after the first and second years, so it gives both player and team some added flexibility.
SF Giants division rival signs top free-agent arm
On the heels of bringing home the National League Cy Young Award in 2020, the righty adds to a stacked rotation that does not even include a pair of impressive, young arms in Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin:
Bauer was originally selected third overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2011 draft out of UCLA. He debuted with the club in 2012 but he was surprisingly shipped to the Cleveland Indians after that season in a blockbuster trade that saw notable names such as Didi Gregorius and Shin-Soo Choo on the move.
In nine seasons, the 30-year-old has registered a 75-64 record, 3.90 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, and a 2.82 SO/W ratio. On the surface, these are not the stats of an ace, but he has performed much better in recent seasons. This includes a stellar 2020 campaign in which he posted a 1.73 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, and a 12.3 K/9 across 73 frames for a Cincinnati Reds team that made it into the playoffs.
This move puts the Dodgers’ 2021 payroll at $239 million, which exceeds the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $210 million by a fair amount. Justin Turner remains on the free-agent market, and it would be a mild surprise to see him sign elsewhere.
With that being said, the Dodgers may need to shed some payroll to make that happen. David Price ($15 million AAV) and A.J. Pollock ($12 million AAV) seem like the likeliest candidates. The Dodgers are not hurting for cash and the tax itself is not what is prohibitive, but if they exceed the CBT by $40 million, then their draft pick position takes a hit.
By signing Bauer, Los Angeles has given up their first-round pick in 2021 since the UCLA product rejected a qualifying offer by the Reds. Over the year, Los Angeles has tried to maintain as much draft stock as possible.
The SF Giants will have their hands full when they face off against Bauer and the Dodgers 19 times in 2021. This will be uncharted territory for the Giants as they have never faced off against the righty in his nine-year career.