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Trevor Bauer: Arbitration system ‘flawed’ and ‘outdated’


Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote up a nice feature of Indians starter Trevor Bauer. As we’ve seen in the past, Bauer is quite a character, unafraid to speak his mind and go against the grain. During his arbitration process against the Indians, Bauer wanted to file for a salary of $6,900,000 — the first two numbers selected very carefully. He was told that the salary request would likely result in him losing his case, so he considered $6,420,969.69. Bauer said, “I just think it’s a good number. I think it accurately reflects my place in the salary structure relative to other athletes.

For those not in the know, the number 420 refers to April 20, the unofficial holiday for marijuana enthusiasts. The number 69 refers to a sex position. Ultimately, Bauer settled on filing for $6,525,000 and he ended up winning his case against the Indians.

Bauer hasn’t given up pursuit of using funny numbers. He launched “The 69 Days of Giving.” Beginning on Opening Day on Thursday, Bauer plans to donate $420.69 per day for 69 days to different charities. On the 69th and final day, he will donate $69,420.69 to a charity he has already chosen but is keeping secret. He will also give $6,002.70 to Taiki Green, the campaign manager for “The 69 Days of Giving.” In the end, after he’s given all he plans to give, he will take home $6,420,969.69 in salary.

This all started because Bauer wanted to make a mockery of the arbitration system, which he believes is “flawed.” He said, “When it was first brought about, it was good, because it gave players a way to increase their salaries while teams have years of control. I think it’s outdated in a lot of ways now. It suppresses players’ salaries mostly. It should be reworked. The way teams are treating free agency this year, and all the years of team control, it’s got to be looked at.”

Bauer also talked about his plans once he’s eligible for free agency, which will be after the 2020 season. “Personally, I will never sign a contract longer than one year. That’s how I feel. I’m going to take one year. I’m going to take maximum average annual value contingent on the fact that I’m allowed to pitch every fourth day. And that’s my deal. It’ll be great for the team because there’s no risk. And assume it’s $42 million — $42.0 million — then if they’re not in the race, they’ll end up paying only two-thirds of it. And then they can trade me for prospects. Or if they’re in it, the contract’s worth it.”

Bauer continued about his plan as a free agent, saying, “I’m always on a contender, so I don’t get stuck in a contract with a non-contender. I’m either on a contender I sign with or get traded to one. This is contingent on me pitching well. But I spend so much time honoring my health and training, I have a lot of information that says I can handle the workload. All the risk in that situation is on the player’s side.”

Say what you will about Bauer’s sense of humor; he’s one of baseball’s more unique, thoughtful players with great knowledge of the system in which he works.

Major League Baseball to launch an elite league for high schoolers

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This morning Major League Baseball announced a new elite league for high school baseball players who are likely to be drafted. It’s called the Prospect Development Pipeline League. It’ll start next summer and it’ll invite 80 of the best current high school juniors to play in a league in Florida from June through early July, culminating in an All-Star Game during MLB’s All-Star week.

The idea behind the league: to combat the current system in which a couple of pay-to-play, for-profit showcase leagues dominate the pre-draft season. Major League Baseball, schools and a lot of players’ parents have criticized this system because it favors rich kids who can afford to play in them. Major League Baseball is also likely quite keen on having greater control over the training, health and physical monitoring of prospects.

As Jeff Passan notes in his report about this, there will be a component of the program which involves live data-tracking of players during games and drills. Major League Baseball has become increasingly interested in such things but is limited in how much it can do in this regard due to labor agreements. There is no such impediment with high schoolers. Your mileage will vary when it comes to how you feel about that, I presume.