As we said when this first broke, the task for the Dodgers is the simplest one. And it appears that they’re at least thinking about walking that road, as the team puts it into the water that they might just ditch Trevor Bauer at the first rest stop they can find before driving off.
Bauer is that rare specimen who was widely loathed by nearly everyone both inside and outside baseball even before it came to light that he might be an unholy monster. Which might make him one of those rare players to lose a career due to an alleged sexual assault, and maybe the only All-Star level one. It’s easy for teams to discard fringe players who turn out to be criminals, but rarely have teams been able to do so with guys who actually contribute. Considering what Bauer is capable of contributing, and while the details of the accusations against him are stupefyingly horrific, they’re not in a category of things we sadly haven’t heard before. Which lets you know just what an asshole everyone thought he was — way before all of this speculation that he might never actually play for anyone again.
And Andrew Friedman had to know Bauer was a bad seed before he signed Bauer. No one could have not known. And he did it anyway. Because Friedman has always “done it anyway.”
While baseball execs for a long time now have come from the same places that Wall Street and hedge fund bros/ghouls come from — i.e. Ivy League schools — Friedman was one of the first to walk from the actual Wall St. into an MLB front office. Which means the traits instilled in him there were the ones he brought to baseball. The two worlds aren’t all that different, but Friedman’s bad inclinations were perhaps more deeply ingrained than the average MLB executive.
The Rays, where Friedman was GM before going to L.A., as a rule, had to run differently than most MLB teams, given their attendance woes and the different financial situation they were in — and have always been only too happy to tell you about it in order to justify how they operate. Specifically, how they can’t pay anyone despite being in the money-making machine that is MLB. Friedman was the perfect person for that role, finding bargains and value where he could. And that included players who were bargains or not as wanted by other teams as they otherwise would have been, were they not bad people and/or had not done bad things.
This Vice article lays out all of Friedman’s dealings with players that were toxic at best, abhorrent at worst, but to sum up his transactions in Tampa: domestic abuser, alleged rapist who pleaded to a lesser charge, open racist, and a homophobe.
The quotes from Friedman during his days in Tampa might sound familiar now.
“We did a lot of due diligence into his problems last year. We know it’s a risk, but feel it’s a risk worth taking.”
“We’re satisfied he’s going to be the kind of teammate and person that we look for.”
“We’re excited to add his profile to the organization.”
And then under Friedman’s watch, a Dodgers minor league organization had a rape scandal of its own.
So what did Friedman say when the team signed Bauer?
“Hopefully, over the last six years-plus some trust and credibility has been built up in terms of the research that we do on players and the vetting process we go through.”
There’s certainly a trust that Friedman doesn’t do any vetting or have any credibility. We’ll give him that.
While at the time of Bauer’s signing, Friedman couldn’t wait to tell everyone that every ex-teammate they talked to about Bauer gave a thumbs-up. Though no one bothered to ask who those players that vouched for Bauer might be, and if Friedman did actually find one to support the signing whether he was actually just snowing the Dodgers. Or at least keeping Bauer off any team they might play for. It’s an open secret that everyone wanted Bauer out of Arizona and Cleveland, and the Yankees — who very much could have used him — didn’t really pursue him in free agency for fear that Gerrit Cole would knife him on the first day of spring training.
Friedman clearly doesn’t give a flying fuck about a player’s past, or what that might mean for their future, other than just crossing his fingers that it doesn’t make a mess. And really, why should he? What’s been the punishment for him? The Rays were held up as the epitome of modern baseball thinking as they danced with the Red Sox and Yankees at a fraction of the payroll. The Dodgers are seen as one of the best-run organizations in sports as a whole. Friedman’s teams win, and that’s all owners have ever asked of him. No one cares about the means, especially not guys who come from where Friedman came to baseball from.
All Friedman saw in Bauer was an All-Star pitcher willing to come to L.A. on a short-term deal (because Bauer is that much up his own ass) for money the Dodgers could afford. It wasn’t hard to know that he was a world-class douche canoe, or that he had already exhibited severe problems dealing with women. Some out there might suggest that it’s a leap in logic from Bauer harassing women online to the prediction that he might assault one in the near future, but how do they think this kind of thing works? When there aren’t consequences for lower offenses, higher ones tend to follow. Especially when you’ve just been handed $40 million a year.
Like Bauer, the Dodgers probably knew who Friedman was before they hired him. Or they didn’t bother to check. Either way, it’s clear all parties involved are made for each other.