Bauer and the Dodgers are in agreement on a three-year, $102 million deal that has opt-outs after Years 1 and 2, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Bauer is set to make $40 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022, sources said.
Bauer, who has a notable online presence, appeared to tease his destination earlier Friday by offering a giveaway for a signed Dodgers hat on his website — though he also had several brief references to the New York Mets, believed to be the other finalist, on the site as well.
Sources told Passan that the Mets offered a higher overall value than the Dodgers, but Los Angeles’ offer will make him the highest-paid player in each of the next two seasons.
“This season is about making sure history remembers us as we wish to be remembered,” Bauer said in the video. “This season is about adding to our legacy. And I can’t wait, Dodger fans.”
According to Spotrac’s MLB team payroll tracker, Bauer’s $40 million salary for the 2021 season is higher than the projected 26-man payroll of the Pittsburgh Pirates ($30 million), Baltimore Orioles ($34.2 million) and Cleveland Indians ($36.5 million).
Bauer, a 30-year-old right-hander, was the first reigning Cy Young Award winner to enter free agency since Greg Maddux in 1992.
A first-time free agent who played last season for the Cincinnati Reds on a $17 million deal that was prorated to $6.4 million, Bauer was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2020, going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP, 100 strikeouts and 17 walks during the pandemic-shortened season. Opposing batters hit .159 against him, which led all major league pitchers. In addition to WHIP and ERA, Bauer led the NL in ERA+, which adjusts for his hitter-friendly home ballpark, and hits allowed per nine innings (5.055) in 2020.
He rejected a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Reds, who will get a compensatory draft pick, approximately No. 60, with him signing with a new team. The Dodgers will forfeit their second-highest pick in the July amateur draft and $500,000 of international signing bonus allocation.
Bauer joins a Dodgers rotation that was one of the best in the majors in 2020 and now has three former Cy Young winners in Bauer, Clayton Kershaw and David Price. Last season, the Dodgers ranked first in WHIP and second in ERA, opponent’s batting average and opponent’s OPS.
The Dodgers’ odds improved slightly following Bauer’s announcement. Already the World Series favorite, the Dodgers are now listed at +400 (up from +450) to win the title at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, while their NL pennant odds moved from +220 to +200 and their NL West odds went from -200 to -220.
Bauer’s arsenal includes a variety of pitches, and he found great success with his cut fastball while throwing an NL-high two shutouts last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bauer set up batters to knock them out on the outer half of the plate, leading the NL with 63 strikeouts while holding hitters to a .145 batting average in that location.
Off the mound, Bauer has voiced opinions and criticism on everything from commissioner Rob Manfred to MLB-MLBPA negotiations to insinuating that Houston Astros pitchers were applying substances to baseballs to increase spin rate. In 2018, Bauer was fined for throwing a baseball from the mound over the center-field fence before being removed from a game. In 2016, he was scratched from Game 2 of the American League Championship Series after he sliced the tip of his finger while doing maintenance on his drone.
Bauer has also received criticism from at least two women, a college student and a New York-based reporter, for antagonizing and harassing them on social media, triggering his substantive following to do the same. In a statement defending those allegations, which was sent to The Athletic in January, Bauer wrote: “I don’t shy away from confrontation and am often quick to defend myself, but I am by no means a bully and I take great offense to my character being called into question.”
The Reds acquired Bauer in a trade with the Cleveland Indians at the deadline in July 2019. He made 10 starts after the deal that year, going 2-5 with a 6.39 ERA for the Reds.
In nine seasons since he broke into the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012, Bauer is 75-64 with 1,279 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA. His only All-Star selection came in 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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