Trevor Bauer signs with the Dodgers
It had been a slow-moving free agency for most of the top names on the market, though many of them started to find new homes last month. Trevor Bauer was the last of the free agents who declined a qualifying offer to be out there, but that came to an end on Friday. Things had been heating up in his market for the last week, though it looked like the Mets were the favorite for most of that time. Whether he changed his mind at the last second or the reports were simply misleading doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is he didn’t go to New York. Instead, he went back home to Los Angeles, signing a three-year deal with the Dodgers.
This is not a standard three-year deal, however, as there are opt outs after each of the first three seasons and extremely high salaries for each as well. The total value of the deal is $102 million, with $40 million guaranteed in 2021 and $45 million in 2022. But, of course, the Dodgers can afford it. And although people are pointing to some of their young players — i.e. Cody Bellinger, among others — getting expensive soon, Mookie Betts is the only player under contract for any significant amount of time. Bauer will now join a rotation that already included Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Julio Urías with great depth on top of that.
Bauer was obviously the top free agent on the board this winter, but I neither expected nor really wanted the Red Sox to be involved here. Even beyond Bauer’s behavior online, which certainly should not be hand-waved away, the player himself is not one that I felt like was worth elite money. Bauer was outstanding in 2020. There’s no doubt about that. But he also faced one of the weakest schedules a pitcher has faced in a long time, not only limited to the Central divisions but often the worst teams in those divisions as well. To me, Bauer is more good than great, and given the Red Sox budget it would have felt like an outsized investment for the likely return. So, this is one big free agent with whom I’m glad there was never a Boston connection.
I’d also add that New York missing out here only makes them more likely to land Jackie Bradley Jr., in my eyes. I’ve been pessimistic that the Red Sox would be able to make the reunion happen, and that’s not trending any better after this news.
Marcell Ozuna signs with the Braves
Speaking of a Boston connection, recently there had been rumors popping up that Boston was one of the teams in on Ozuna to the end. I have no idea whether or not that was true, but I will say it always sounded to me like an exagerration, particularly since it came right after rumors of the Rays being involved. It could have been the Red Sox trying to price Tampa out of the bidding, or Ozuna’s agent trying to pump the market. Or it could have been true, but like I said I’m skeptical, and I’ll get to why in a bit.
But first, the deal itself. Ozuna is going back to Atlanta, who kind of needed this to happen. The Braves have a really good club, but with Ozuna gone they would have been missing that big bat in the middle of the order to hit behind their top three of Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman. Adding Ozuna takes that offense to a totally new level. And so they went as far as they needed to, eventually agreeing to a four-year worth $65 million with a club option for a fifth year.
As for the Red Sox part of this, I think there was an argument that he could have made sense at Fenway, which Jake laid out a couple of weeks ago. I know there were some concerns about the defense, but personally that wasn’t much of a concern to me as someone who has seen guys like Manny Ramirez and Jonny Gomes play out there. I think Ozuna could have been fine. However, this all hinged on an Andrew Benintendi trade, which has seemed to have lost momentum. If they could have gotten a solid package for Benintendi, then I would have been all for doing that and signing Ozuna. But it would have been contingent on the package. Trading Benintendi just to open a spot for Ozuna would not have been something I’d have gotten behind. So there was a path here, but it turned out to be a little more complicated than that.