LOS ANGELES — Trevor Bauer is coming home to pitch for the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, and will do so as the highest-paid player in baseball.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner announced his decision Friday in a two-minute video posted to his social media channels. Bauer narrated the piece, which ended with him saying, “This season is about making sure history remembers us as we wish to be remembered. This season is about adding to our legacy. And I can’t wait, Dodger fans.”
The video was titled “MY NEW HOME!!!” and the credits said it was written by Bauer, who wore a Dodgers jersey and cap. He tossed a baseball from one hand to the other.
Bauer, who turned 30 last month, was born in North Hollywood, went to high school in Santa Clarita, and played baseball at UCLA.
According to ESPN, the deal is for three years, but features opt outs after the 2021 and 2022 seasons; Bauer has long said he will never sign more than a one-year contract, though he walked that back in October. He will make $40 million in 2021, would make $45 million in 2022, and then only $17 million in 2023. The first two figures make Bauer the highest-paid player in baseball for each of those seasons, topping Mike Trout’s annual average of $37,116,666 on the 12-year deal he signed in 2019.
The free agent righthander also was negotiating with the New York Mets, who offered more money across the entire contract according to ESPN, but less than Bauer will make in the first two seasons of his Los Angeles deal.
For the second straight year, the Dodgers had a mostly quiet offseason before making a blockbuster deal in February. In 2020, they traded with the Red Sox for outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price, who opted out last season because of the pandemic. Price is expected back this year.
😳😳😳 wow!!— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) February 5, 2021
Bauer joins a Dodgers rotation that had a major league-best 3.02 ERA during the abbreviated 60-game season last year, when the franchise won its first championship since 1988.
He gives the club a third Cy Young winner, joining three-time winner Clayton Kershaw and 2012 winner Price. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Dodgers are the first team to have three former Cy Young winners in their rotation since the Detroit Tigers in 2014 had Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Price.
With the upcoming season expanding from 60 games to a full 162-game schedule, the Dodgers can go seven-deep in their rotation, which includes Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin.
Bauer is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA in nine major league seasons, including a career-best 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA for Cleveland in 2017. He was an All-Star the following year, going 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA.
Bauer was 5-4 in his second season with Cincinnati, and his 1.73 ERA was second in the major leagues among qualified pitchers behind only Cleveland’s Shane Bieber at 1.63. Bauer earned $6,481,481 in prorated pay from a $17.5 million salary.
Arizona selected Bauer with the third overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Diamondbacks the following year and went 1-2 in four starts, then was traded to Cleveland in December 2012 with pitchers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw as part of a three-team trade that brought shortstop Didi Gregorius and pitcher Tony Sipp to Arizona, outfielder Drew Stubbs to Cleveland and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati.
He was traded to Cincinnati in July 2019 in another three-team deal, one with Cleveland and San Diego that brought pitcher Logan Allen and outfielders Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig to the Indians.
Bauer has caused controversy on social media. A female college student claimed to USA Today in 2019 that Bauer harassed her on Twitter, accusing him of retweeting an old tweet of her referring to drinking alcohol before her 21st birthday. USA Today said there were 80 tweets of Bauer that mentioned her and 20 of her that mentioned the pitcher. Bauer tweeted that the woman “was obsessed with me.”
He went after baseball owners for the sport’s economics last May during bargaining to start the pandemic-delayed season.
“There’s so many ways to hide the money,” he said, adding that owners could reduce ticket prices and at the same time charge more for parking garages they control through different entities that do not benefit the club.
“If I’m going to have to trust my salary to Rob Manfred marketing the game to make more money for the game, I am out on that,” Bauer said. “Let me market the game and we’ll all make more money.”
Los Angeles’s other offseason moves include re-signing reliever Blake Treinen to a $17.5 million, two-year contract, and agreeing to a $4.75 million, two-year deal with reliever Tommy Kahnle, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in August.
Because Bauer turned down an $18.9 million qualifying offer, Los Angeles will forfeit its second-highest pick in the July amateur draft and $500,000 of international signing bonus allocation.
Cincinnati will receive an extra draft pick after competitive balance Round B, approximately No. 60, as compensation.