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Trevor Bauer: Arbitration hearing was ‘character assassination’ by Indians

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Trevor Bauer won his arbitration case earlier this week. He’ll now make $13 million in 2019 instead of the $11 million the Indians wanted to pay him. That’s good.

The arbitration itself, though, sounded bad. At least from Bauer’s point of view. He called it character assassination. From Bob Nightengale at USA Today:

“They spent the last 10 minutes of the case trying a character-assassination,” Bauer said. “I learned that giving to charity is a bad thing . . .Basically, that I’m a terrible human being . . .”

The charity itself was apparently not a bad thing in the mind of the Indians, but Bauer’s somewhat juvenile gimmick for it — “the 69 days of giving” — was criticized by the club, as were some of his other social media controversies he got himself into. Bauer added that the Indians attempted to argue that a random comment he made on someone’s podcast about him being worth $10.5 million should hold him to that, legally speaking.

Most of that, if true, does sound pretty bad on the Indians’ part. Yes, Bauer has stepped in it online on multiple occasions and it’s fair game, I suppose, for the club to argue that a player is worth less if he creates bad press for himself and the team. But I’d argue that, even if Bauer has made a lot of mistakes — and he has — they haven’t been the sort of mistakes that are actually going to cost the Indians money or serve to negatively impact Bauer’s value as a pitcher.

Going after the name of the charity is pretty weak sauce too because, from what I’ve seen of it, it was a pretty effective campaign, probably because of its winking name rather than in spite of it. As for arguing that something Bauer said on a podcast estopping him saying he’s worth more in an arbitration, well, that’s just plain stupid. And yes, I said “estopped.”

By an arbitration’s very nature a team is going to say stuff about a player that the player doesn’t want to hear. Usually it’s about how they’re not as good, on the field, as they think they are. Sometimes it drifts into other areas too. I’ll also note that Bauer, at least what I can tell from afar, is wired a bit differently than most players and I can imagine a situation in which he takes those sorts of things a bit more personally than some others might. And it’s certainly the case that he has brought some bad stuff down on himself because of his social media habits.

But getting after him for the stuff he says they did sounds rather silly to me on the Indians’ part. All in an unsuccessful effort to save a couple million bucks. If they had put the kind of effort into building an outfield this winter that they did into picking nits with one of the better pitchers in baseball, maybe there’d be some more hope among the Indians fans I talk to.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.