Red Sox: Trevor Bauer trolls critics who claim he can’t handle big markets

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 04: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch in the first inning during game two of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 4, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 04: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch in the first inning during game two of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 4, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Potential Red Sox free-agent target Trevor Bauer snaps back at critics.

Trevor Bauer is the top pitcher on the free-agent market and that alone puts him on the radar for a Boston Red Sox team in dire need of a rotation upgrade. The front-runner for the NL Cy Young award has the talent to lead this staff but there are lingering questions about how his personality would fit in a bigger market.

Bauer has spent his entire nine-year career with mid-market clubs, mostly with a pair of Ohio teams following his brief MLB debut in Arizona. The scrutiny that comes with playing under a microscope in a market like Boston is an entirely different beast. Everything you do or say is dissected by the intense media and passionate fan base. It’s a potentially combustible environment for the outspoken Bauer.

The New York Mets are another large market team facing a similar dilemma – a need for pitching, money to spend but tasked with answering the question of if Bauer would be a fit in New York. Mets president Sandy Alderson was asked about the concern on WFAN’s “Carton & Roberts” and his response was surprisingly optimistic, stating that fans would endorse Bauer in New York. Baseball is an entertainment business and a strong personality makes for good entertainment.

Bauer noticed Alderson’s quote on social media and naturally couldn’t resist chiming in with a response directed at his critics.

"“Nah…baseball isn’t entertainment. It’s boring and personality isn’t allowed. And this Bauer guy is going to be terrible in the New York media. Big head case. Couldn’t handle it,” Bauer tweeted."

His words were dripping with sarcasm aimed at anyone who dared to question if he could handle a big market. Bauer sent a message that shows his confidence in handling even the most intense media market while simultaneously showcasing the sort of brash behavior that has some potential suitors nervous about signing him to a massive contract.

MLB has long had a problem with marketing their players. Baseball needs a bit more personality from their stars. Someone who isn’t afraid to give us a quote that extends beyond the boring canned responses we typically get. You never have to worry about that with Bauer, who has never been shy about sharing what’s on his mind. Placing him in the spotlight of New York or Boston could actually be good for the sport if it generates some excitement to draw in viewers.

Unfortunately, Bauer has a tendency to take things a bit too far. Trolling his critics with a sarcastic tweet shows he has a sense of humor that we don’t often see from players. The ability to express his unique personality is admirable. Harassing a female college student in retaliation for being called her “least favorite player” is despicable. An enthusiastic fist pump on the mound when striking out a hitter is the type of emotion that baseball should embrace. Launching the ball over the center field fence out of frustration when his manager pulls him out of the game is wildly unprofessional.

His track record brings legitimate concerns about whether or not Bauer has the maturity to pitch in a big market where the pressure will be magnified. The Mets apparently have no qualms with gambling on Bauer.

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The Red Sox might. Boston has had its fair share of big personalities. Positive attitudes are embraced by this city. The negative ones get torn to shreds. When David Price called out Dennis Eckersley for being critical of his teammate it became one of the season’s biggest story lines. Price was labeled a malcontent and a clubhouse cancer. While his actions drew the ire of the fans and media, they pale in comparison to what Bauer has done.

Bauer has repeatedly shown interest in signing one-year deals throughout his career, in part because he doesn’t want to lock himself into a bad situation long-term. The risk of Bauer’s personality is mitigated by the short commitment. If he doesn’t pan out, both sides can easily move on. A one-year test run would be a great way to significantly upgrade next year’s rotation without clogging future payroll space.

The downside is that Bauer declined his qualifying offer from the Cincinnati Reds, meaning it would cost any other team that signs him their second-highest draft pick. It’s not worth giving up that pick for only one year of Bauer unless he’s the missing piece that puts a team over the top. The Red Sox currently aren’t in that position.

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Perhaps Bauer will prove his critics wrong by thriving with a big market team while at least moderately behaving himself. That’s a gamble another team outside of Boston can take. He’s too risky to hand a massive long-term contract to and the draft pick penalty is too steep for a short-term deal unless the Red Sox complement the signing with other moves that make them a legitimate championship contender.