CLEVELAND — By declaring he will spend his baseball life speed dating in a series of one-year contracts, Trevor Bauer invites the Cleveland Indians to call this relationship off before too long.
But for now they are still a good match.
The Indians make room for his idiosyncrasies. He is successful and dependable, minus that solitary workshop accident (“I told you to hire somebody to fix that drone”) and the occasional freak injury.
Bauer will make $13 million in 2019 by terms of the arbitration process that attracted his intellectual curiosity but also strained his feelings.
“A character assassination,” he called the part where the MLB labor relations folks pointed out his sophomoric tendencies.
In the same -- let's say "interesting" -- week, Bauer shared his Rules of Dating with Sports Illustrated: no emotional connections, no public sharing of details, no expectation of monogamy.
The Indians might want to take a cue from Bauer's dating rules and present him Three Rules of Arbitration if it reaches another sit-down next year: no emotional reaction, no public sharing of details, an announced commitment to finding a trade partner if the number gets too high.
I’m sure he will appreciate the parameters.
I’m sure because he told MLB Network as much back in late November when his name was mentioned in trade rumors.
"There's a lot of reasons I think that [the Indians should not trade me]," Bauer said of the 2019 season. ”Ultimately, I think the surplus value on me this year is just way too high. Even with an arbitration raise, you're probably talking about $15 to $20 million of surplus value.”
I could tell you what surplus value means but your eyes would glaze over.
Who am I kidding? I can’t tell you what surplus value means without my eyes glazing over. Suffice to say Bauer has a point.
"In 2020," he continued, "when my salary raises up to like the $20 million range, then the surplus value isn't nearly as much. And they're most likely not going to be able to sign me in free agency, even on one-year deals. So it would make sense to trade me and get some prospects in return.”
How much would a trade partner give up to enjoy — if that’s the right word — the same arrangement with Bauer?
That’s likely another question best answered next year.
Bauer was talking about dating when he told SI if his terms couldn’t be met he’d happily settle for being "perfectly polite platonic friends."
But, come to think of it, that description fits this season with the Indians as well.
- At least the platonic part. It's only polite when he isn't telling SI he could’ve fixed Cody Allen’s curveball issues in two days. And isn’t praising the Houston Astros technological superiority. And…
- Carlos Boozer -- remember that master of misdirection? -- sent best wishes to Zion Williamson on Twitter after the Duke star blew out his Nike shoe and strained his knee:
The only catch: He tagged Zion National Park in Utah.
Either that or he meant to send this during the government shutdown.
- Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman said this about concern regarding Lamar Jackson’s running being unsustainable in the NFL:
“I think it’s overrated, the whole danger thing,” Roman said via the Baltimore Sun.
His point? QBs control the scramble more than people think. They can elect to slide or get out of bounds.
Also. It’s 2019. And they’re bubble wrapped before every game at the direction of the NFL rules committee.
- Roman says QBs can’t always control hits in the pocket as easily. True enough. But Jackson isn’t scrambling a few times a game into open running lanes. He rushed 147 times while only starting seven games.
Meanwhile, 75-year-old Tom Brady spends every season in the pocket. Criminal proceedings are still underway involving those pass rusher who last season touched him above the sternum and below the navel.
- After learning the Steelers won’t franchise him and he’s free to shop himself to the highest bidder, running back Le’Veon Bell took to Twitter.
And still people think some athletes are out of touch.
- OK, OK, don’t make this about Matt Kuchar.
The PGA Pro made it right with caddy David Ortiz -- after initially giving him just $5,000 on a $1.3 million payday -- while expressing heartfelt regrets not heard since Frank Shirley apologized for the Jelly of the Month Club in Christmas vacation.
- Former Browns and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley praised the work ethic of Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown during an interview on SirisXM NFL Radio.
“Le’Veon is a guy totally into football,” Haley said. “He’d sit by my office before the team meeting in the morning with his iPad out, watching tape.”
“AB is arguably the hardest worker I’ve ever been around,” Haley said. “It comes through his competitive nature, desire. . . . You could never ask anything more of that guy. He wanted to do it all, all the time. What more could you ask for?”
Just for both of them to show up and play.
- Steelers GM Kevin Colbert defended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s right to criticize players publicly.
Come again? Yep. That’s what he said.
“Ben’s the elder statesman,” Colbert told reporters. “If the players were smart, they’d listen to him. He’s been there."
“I honestly believe it can be a burden on him more often that he would like to admit,” Colbert said of Roethlisberger’s leadership role. “He has 52 kids under him. I want them to step up and say, ‘Ben, what do I have to do? Can I do this better? What do we have to do to win a Super Bowl?’"
And if the quarterback’s teammates weren’t adult professionals available every day for a private conversation with Roethlisberger or for helpful criticism in a team meeting, Colbert’s take just might make sense.
- Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison puts much of the blame for Pittsburgh’s recent dysfunction on head coach Mike Tomlin. As for Colbert, Harrison told NFL Network he thinks the GM got “a little overzealous with it.”
You think? The only thing worse is if Colbert said “52 toddlers.”
- LeBron James says his intensity level is activated post-All-Star break.
You’d like the Lakers chances better if Magic, Kareem and Kobe were also activated.
- Something had to give when the 12-46 Cavaliers met the 11-48 Suns first game back from the All-Star break Thursday.
And sure enough it was our interest levels and attention spans.
- The PGA Tour is allowing players to wear shorts for practice rounds and Pro-Ams.
The last thing J.B. Holmes needs. More options to consider.
- Raiders owner Al Davis wanted to sign superstar Rickey Henderson to play in the NFL back in the day but Henderson says the A’s wouldn’t allow it.
“When Bo Jackson first came into the league, I went to Al Davis to go play football and he was going to let me be a two-way player,” Henderson told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The Oakland A’s said, ‘Oh, no way. You’re not going out there. That’s not going to happen.’"
“That was my chance and I missed it," Henderson said. "I always used to tell Bo and Deion Sanders, ‘I could have done that, played both sports, but the A’s said they weren’t going to let me.’ That was my dream.”
I believe that story. What’s harder to believe is that Rickey has stopped talking about Rickey in the third person.
After all, he’s most famous for once calling Padres GM Kevin Towers late in his career to let him know he still had interest in playing.
“Kevin, this is Rickey, calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”
- Dwyane Wade said in his final All-Star game he believes the NBA is in “good hands.”
If you’re in one of those cities where team stacking is possible.
- Former big leaguer Daisuke Matsuzaka won’t pitch for the Chunichi Dragons for a while. He says he was injured during a public appearance when a fan yanked his throwing arm.
Had to be that. Couldn’t have been the accumulation of 30 years of pitching dating to 1988 when he threw a 250-pitch 17-inning game the day after a 148-pitch complete game.
- A few years ago Japanese pitcher Taiga Matsui threw 709 pitches in a national high school baseball semifinal that lasted 50 innings.
Making him the leading candidate to some day claim an injury from a fan handshake.
- You read that right. Fifty innings. Seven hundred and nine pitches. Or what Trevor Bauer would call “light throwing.”