The very unpopular player that I normally refer to ‘pitcher not-to named’ or PNTN is still a free agent with many if not most GMs saying no way. But a team like the Pirates make a lot of sense.
Trevor Bauer has been an Ace level pitcher that has a questionable personal life and generally not the nicest of people. Leaving out the facts that he has had some allegations against him, none of which lead criminal actions and most legal actions dropped or settled in his favor he still does have some traits that may put him in those situations again. Trevor has recently said that he is putting that life behind him but what is and what is said do not always agree.
The league isn’t a huge fan of the Pirates given their questionable but ultimately legitimate spending. the MLBPA also takes issues with the Pirates and their spending. The fans already largely dislike the owner ship and front office. The short story, they don’t have much to lose from the PR front.
Baseball wise he has won the CY young, posted a sub 1.0 WHIP three of his previous four MLB seasons with an ERA under 3 during those times and continued his great play in Japan in 2023. Under normal circumstances he would’ve gotten a $30M + AAV contract.
Given then controversy he will not get near that and puts his price tag in reach for a low spending team like the Pirates. Trevor made $5m in 2023 in Japan. Anything at or above that I believe he would take to get back in to the MLB. So what would it take for Trevor to come back to the states? Simple answer is not much.
My opinion is that the Pirates should offer him a long term contract with some major conditions with penalties of fines, dismissal and salary repayment depending on the infraction. Also very few player perks a player of his caliber would receive. Trevor just turned 34 so long term is a relative term.
I would offer a deal that would give me six years of control. A three year deal with three team options. Salary for the first three seasons at $10M/$15M/$20M giving him a $45M pay day. I would also offer bonuses to get him up to an additional $5M per year. Three Option years at $20M/$17M/$15M with buy outs of $5M each year. Also extending those performance bonuses to those option years giving him a total possible of over $125M but a guaranteed total of $60M both at 20M AAV should he hit all the performance targets. Seems like a decent deal for Trevor given his situation.
Now for the team to protect itself. Off the field issues similar to the ones he faced serious penalties based on how far the issue proceeds through the legal system going as far as him repaying the entire salary back to the team some of which goes to the MLBPA and MLB. “Minor” issues for non-traffic violates that show poor judgement could cause a fine. Any time missed due to those issues like court or injury do not get paid.
That is my opinion. Trevor is one of the better pitchers in the world has no conviction of a crime, has no charges of a crime and civil suites against him have not been successful to this point. The worst that has been proven is poor judgement and a “personal life” that some find offensive and pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable by most of us, myself included. He should be “allowed” back into the MLB with similar conditions I suggest with some team. Maybe that will not happen in 2024 but It should happen at some point.