It’s fairly obvious why Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer weren’t exactly “friends” during their college days at UCLA. Cole is a reserved, largely soft-spoken competitor while Bauer is an in-your-face prove-you-wrong flamboyant personality.
Some New York Yankees fans called for the team to signed Bauer this offseason after he hit free agency, but you just knew it wasn’t going to happen.
General manager Brian Cashman was likely never even going to entertain disrupting the status quo with Cole atop the rotation — let alone with a signing that would import someone whom his ace has had well-documented issues with in the past. And the money Bauer was looking for? Get out of here. A 3.90 career ERA with 1-1/3 impressive seasons under his belt.
Masahiro Tanaka has largely had a better MLB career than Bauer, who is making a record-setting $40 million AAV with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021.
However, avoiding Bauer for his skeptical track record on the field was hardly all the Yankees had to consider. His boisterous social media activity was perhaps even more of a concern in the free agency vetting process, and the Dodgers are learning that the hard way.
Bauer’s been accused of online harassment, and his followers the same. On top of that, the right-hander brings endless unwanted attention via Twitter, and that’s not the Yankee way.
Upon signing with the Dodgers, Bauer had to respond to his social media behavior during the introductory press conference, particularly his harassment of women, to which he responded that he’s learned from his mistakes, adding that “it wasn’t the right forum” to elaborate further than that.
What followed? A Twitter battle with Noah Syndergaard. Responding to users who claimed he was racist, misogynistic and anti-immigration. And another Twitter fight with Marcus Stroman. In a three-day span! Granted, the Mets are sour he spurned them in free agency, but the point remains: Bauer cannot help himself, regardless the topic of conversation, and it welcomes unnecessary distractions in a magnified spotlight that cannot afford many.
Just look at the New York media right now. Gary Sanchez and his subpar play are constantly in the crosshairs. Domingo German is beginning to derail the hype surrounding the 2021 season. Imagine if Bauer brought this to New York and proceeded to play poorly?
Even if Bauer had better career numbers and would’ve been a bonafide No. 2 arm behind Cole, the Yankees keeping their distance was always likely the right move. There’s hardly any room for error in New York, and every other step Bauer takes could be considered distasteful — to put it lightly — in the eyes of Yankees fans and the New York media.
Some may think Bauer signing with the Dodgers was a death sentence for the Bombers World Series hopes, but in reality it could guide LA’s championship train off the tracks if he doesn’t live up to the money and the media begins to zero in on his futile behavior on Twitter … because that’ll make for some good headlines.