CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer's final moment as a member of the Cleveland Indians seemed to be a fitting one.
By now, you've seen the clip.
As manager Terry Francona marched toward the mound to pull Bauer from a game in which he had just surrendered a 7-5 lead, the 28-year-old right-hander proceeded to chuck the baseball he had been holding over the center field wall at Kauffman Stadium.
After the game, Bauer apologized for the heave, for which he will be fined. Two days later, the Indians traded the 1-time All-Star to the Cincinnati Reds.
Make no mistake, although Francona admitted he had concerns about how the incident would affect his team, Bauer was likely going to be traded this week even if he hadn't thrown a temper tantrum in Kansas City. Given his contract status and unwillingness to commit to a long-term deal, Wednesday's Trade Deadline served as one of Cleveland's final opportunities to trade its star pitcher before losing a significant amount of leverage in the offseason to come.
Nevertheless, Bauer's outburst seemed to serve as a fitting sendoff for his Indians tenure, given its often volatile nature. And yet, there he was at Progressive Field on Wednesday -- hours after his trade had been made official -- watching from the stands as his now-former team faced the Houston Astros.
At some point in the night, Bauer proceeded to hold an impromptu press conference with reporters in the team's media dining room. And in doing so, he sounded nothing like the player who had just endured an on-field meltdown.
"At the end of the day, I am myself, to a fault. There are good parts, bad parts, and middle parts about everyone," Bauer said. "I'd like everyone to know that I was true to myself, passionate about the game, and tried to help as many people as I could while I was here. Am I perfect? No, far from it."
To be fair, the Indians knew as much when they traded for him.
Selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the team gave up on the No. 3 overall pick after less than two years. Frustrated by his unwillingness to adapt to their preferred training regimen, the Diamondbacks traded the then-21-year-old to the Indians in a three-team trade following the 2012 season.
After bouncing back and forth between the big leagues and the minors for the better parts of the next year, Bauer asserted himself as a mainstay of Cleveland's starting staff following a May 2014 call-up. The UCLA product, however, failed to consistently showcase the pitching prowess that made him Baseball America's 2011 College Player of the Year, as he posted an ERA higher than 4 in each of his first four full Major League seasons.
But when Bauer was on, he was on, which is what made the 2016 season so bittersweet. As the Indians captured their first American League Central title since 2007 -- and eventually, their first A.L. pennant since 1997 -- the then-25-year-old proved to be a key cog in what was an otherwise depleted Cleveland pitching staff.
An accident while fixing one of his drones, however, left a cut on his left pinky that required stitches. The gash initially limited Bauer's availability -- he pitched just 0.2 innings in the ALCS -- and then his effectiveness, as he lost both of his starts in the Indians' seven-game defeat to the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
“It’s kind of funny — he’s a big, dumb animal you need to babysit sometimes with his drones and his toys,” Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said, per The Washington Post. “I don’t care. As long as he can still pitch for us, [it’s], ‘You’re an idiot, but go get some outs now.’”
With the frustration from fans longing for a World Series title still fresh, Bauer didn't help his cause when he let it be known that he voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election -- and then took it upon himself to let everyone know that most of his teammates did too (Bauer later amended the statement to say that he didn't vote). But regardless of his polarizing politics and unwillingness to #StickToSports, his performance on the field became too impressive to ignore, as he built on a strong second half in 2017 to earn the first All-Star appearance of his career a year later.
If not for a stress fracture in his right leg caused by a Jose Abreu line drive that cost him the better part of the final month of the season, Bauer may have very well won the 2018 American League Cy Young Award. After posting career-bests with a 2.21 ERA and 221 strikeouts, Bauer had finally lived up to his billing as one of the most talented players in baseball.
And then, with his approval rating having reached its all-time peak, Bauer curiously engaged in a week-long Twitter beef with a 21-year-old female college student, who accused the online pitcher of online harassment.
A month later, Bauer was profiled by Sports Illustrated, where -- among other anecdotes -- he shared his three unique rules for dating: 1. "No feelings." 2. No social media posts about their relationship. 3. "I sleep with other people."
By that point, many fans had become numb to the polarizing nature of Bauer's personality, having opted to separate it from his genius-like pitching prowess. Perhaps the best outing of his Cleveland career came on April 4, 2019, when he didn't allow a single hit and recorded eight strikeouts in seven innings of a win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The rest of Bauer's time in Cleveland almost served as a microcosm of his career. At times, he was brilliant, while at others, he couldn't get out of his own way. By the time he made his final (unofficial) throw in an Indians uniform, he laid claim to a 9-8 record, 3.79 ERA and 185 strikeouts on the year.
Despite the Indians' starting pitching depth, Bauer left behind a sizable gap in Cleveland's rotation as both a pitcher and mentor, whose analytical approach helped revolutionize his teammates' development. He also leaves behind a complicated legacy as a player who was one of the most talented players in franchise history, who -- as part of his on doing -- never received the fanfare that typically inspires.
"I hope my legacy will be defined by the fans and the people I've met here," Bauer said. "It'll be different for every person based on what they know about me."