Trevor Bauer’s over it. After months of needling the cheating Astros every opportunity he got, one of baseball’s top trolls—and certainly one of its best pitchers—is done with the pot shots and making hilarious merch. He's calling a truce.
“The season’s over so I do feel like it’s time to let bygones be bygones,” says Bauer “They had their Astros-shaming tour. It’s time to move on.”
Plus, Bauer’s got other things to worry about. Namely his free agency after a scintillating season in Cincinnati. On the verge of winning his first Cy Young Award, Bauer’s arguably the top target this offseason for contenders looking to upgrade their rotation. And one of the things the hurler can’t wait to do once he’s almost assuredly named the National League’s top pitcher is change his phone background.
“I think the last 10 years my phone background has been a picture of the Cy Young Award—Jim Palmer’s Cy Young Award that I pulled off Google as a subtle message to drive me,” says Bauer. “Hopefully I can replace that picture with my own shortly.”
We’ll know for sure Wednesday when Major League Baseball officially announces the winner. But after Bauer put up absurd numbers (1.73 ERA, .795 WHIP, 100 Ks over 73.0 IP) during the abbreviated 2020 regular-season, leading the Reds to their first postseason appearance in seven years, it’s hard to fathom anyone else winning. So we caught up with the perennially outspoken Bauer to talk about his stellar season, the funniest free agent rumors he’s seen, how he would’ve handled getting pulled from Game 6 of the World Series, and his offseason partnership with Lids.
Bauer’s worn baseball hats since he was a little kid and he says he still has his favorite Oakland A’s cap that he wore for eight years. “It’s got holes in it, the sun baked through the material, my chinchilla I had at the time chewed the bill on it,” says Bauer. “But it was my favorite hat. I wore it for the longest time because Barry Zito had signed it and he was my favorite player.”
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
You’re arguably the No. 1 free agent on the market so what’s the best thing about being the top target this offseason?
You know I haven’t honestly thought about free agency that much. The most I’ve thought about it is how to engage the different fan bases and have fun with it on social media. As far as where I’m going to play, or anything like that, I’ve been so busy trying to catch up on everything from the season that I haven’t really dug myself out of that hole yet. It’s been a fun time so far, not too stressful, and I have a great team around me that does great work so I trust them to do their thing.
Are you disappointed you won’t get wined and dined since I’m guessing the free agency recruiting process will be different this year?
I’m not much a fan of wine in general so I’m not too worried about that part of it. I do have a lot of questions to ask whatever team I end up signing with. As long as I have a forum to be able to ask that, of the correct people and to understand what the organization is about, I’ll be fine. I’m pretty low maintenance.
What’s going to be the most important thing?
I want to be happy. I want to enjoy playing baseball. I’ve been unhappy more times than not in my career, unfortunately, so I want to turn that around.
What’s the most ridiculous free agency rumor you’ve seen about yourself?
I’m online a lot. I check Twitter and interact quite a bit there. I see all of that stuff. I think the more of that that’s out there the better because it helps expand my brand and that’s one of the creative ways I’m trying to use free agency is to maximize my reach and recognize-ability across the country. I enjoy hearing the rumors. It’s fun to laugh at them.
But which one got the biggest laugh out of you?
Oh, I don’t know yet. I’m sure there will be plenty more. The fans that say, “Sign Bauer for four-years and $12 million”—all the fans that have no idea how things work, it’s cool to see them try and think their way through it and stuff.
"If you took Babe Ruth in his prime and Barry Bonds in his prime... Bonds would blow him out the water." @BauerOutage says Barry Bonds is the baseball GOAT.— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) June 30, 2020
Episode: https://t.co/gq3yj65s1U pic.twitter.com/FhctN3f9VA
What’s the Cy Young Award going to mean to you because I think it’s kind of preposterous that anyone else is going to win it in the NL?
I think all the finalists had great years and deserve to win it. I certainly think I’ve done enough to win it. But I want to first start off by saying Yu [Darvish] and Jacob [deGrom] both had incredible years. I respect those guys and look up to them a lot and model myself off a lot of things they do. It’s just kind of an honor to be in contention with them. Hopefully I win it. It’s something I’ve wanted my entire life.
What gives you greater satisfaction: trolling MLB commissioner Rob Manfred or the Houston Astros?
That’s tough. Kind of a toss-up. I think they’re one in the same a lot of times. The season’s over so I do feel like it’s time to let bygones be bygones. They had their Astros-shaming tour. It’s time to move on. I think it’s better for baseball, for everyone involved, if that’s put on the backburner and focus on what’s shaping the game moving forward because we’ve got a lot of issues we have to solve.
So speaking of things baseball has to figure out, do you think the universal DH is here to stay?
Universal DH I think will be. If it’s not next year, I think it will be shortly. Personally, I think fans would rather watch a DH hit than a pitcher hit. I don’t think fans, as a whole, in the future and the direction the game is going, appreciate the nuances [of pitcher’s hitting] as much as they appreciate the highlights and clickable moments, so to speak, and I think that’s the direction the game is going. I think that’s the direction the rules are going to have to go to keep fans engaged.
If you’re dealing in Game 6 of the World Series and your manager comes out to get you after you just let up your second hit of the game and its only the 6th inning— like Kevin Cash did to Blake Snell—how are you reacting?
Blake handled it a lot better than I probably would have. It’s impossible to say in that situation, without being in it and tied up in the emotion of it and things like that. I was surprised by it, although I wasn’t surprised because it’s the Rays. I want to pitch. I always feel like I’m the best option. That’s not an indictment of my teammates, the manager, the team, or anything like that. As a competitor you have to feel that way because every time you take the ball you have to have that confidence to think you’re the best guy to get the job done. Tough situation. Didn’t work out in their favor, although it would probably work out in their favor more often than not during the course of a season.
Talk about what’s going down with Lids since you’re the first baseball player to partner with the brand. What creative things are you guys cooking up?
I take a lot of pride in growing my brand and connecting with young fans and with the reach that Lids has, with 1,200-plus locations and the amount of merchandise they sell gives me a large opportunity to reach out to fans and keep connecting and trying to grow the game of baseball. Lids has been a partner in that pursuit for a long time. I’ve been a fan and customer my entire life. It’s a big honor. I look forward to the possibilities with it.
I’m always one to have some fun, interesting ideas during the season. I’m excited for the creative opportunity to branch out and get into Lids stores and stuff like that. There will be some content coming out, and obviously I’m a big content guy. It’s going to be an exciting collab. I’m really looking forward to it. I probably have 10 times more ideas than what actually ends up becoming public so I’m excited to have other creative people kind of thinking along with me on ways we can get this into the hands of the fans. Because ultimately that’s what it’s about: connecting with the fans and finding something they like and something I like.