Is there a road back to the Show for Trevor Bauer?
Amid reports that several teams are interested in Aroldis Chapman, we look at the similarities and differences between him and Trevor Bauer
Amid reports that several teams are considering Aroldis Chapman, including his hometown Marlins, it is impossible to escape the comparison to the Trevor Bauer saga that has enveloped baseball for over a year now.
Both men were suspended by MLB for violating the domestic violence policy and both had police decline to press charges against them. In both cases, the incident killed their chance of playing in Los Angeles. Chapman’s pending trade to the Dodgers was cancelled and Bauer was ignominiously DFA’d on the back of the scandal.
But that is where the similarity ends. While the Yankees were rubbing their hands with glee, scooping up Chapman as owner Hal Steinbrenner confidently predicted that “the majority of Yankees fans will likely largely forget about Chapman’s off-field issues.” And so they have.
During an argument with his girlfriend, Aroldis Chapman choked and shoved her into a wall, before pulling a pistol and firing eight shots into that wall in a fit of rage. When his suspension had been served, Chapman apologized, not to his girlfriend, not for choking her, but for the use of the gun.
“I’m apologizing because of the use of the gun,” Chapman said. “It was bad judgment on my part. But I also want to say that I never hurt my girlfriend. I want this to be very clear.”
Much like Bauer, Chapman argues that the domestic violence never took place, even as he offers an apology of sorts.
In the case of Trevor Bauer, there was no weapon, although the accusation of violence was ratcheted up to actual punching in the face and choking his accuser to the point of unconsciousness.
Bauer, like Chapman, says that the violence was overblown by the press, calling it a consensual act of S&M sex, and insisting that it did not involve punching or unconsciousness. But unlike Chapman, the Yankees are not rubbing their hands with glee. In fact, nobody seems to want anything to do with him.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is to do with the nature of the allegations. In the case of all other players who have fallen afoul of the league’s domestic violence policy, it has been the result of a fight. And while that doesn’t make it better, it is something that is readily understood by the public at large.
In Bauer’s case, it was a game, a sex act, that led to the allegations. For all of America’s progressive, liberal outlook, we really are a puritanical people at heart. The concept of consensual sado-masochism is a hard sell to middle America.
Another stumbling block is simply Trevor Bauer himself. Known as a grating person in many dugouts and front offices, he has not been able to count on many people flying to his defense, no matter how they may feel about the allegations against him. The biggest thing stopping the Yankees from considering him is the deep-seated dislike between him and Gerrit Cole that goes all the way back to their days at UCLA. Even Hal Steinbrenner is unwilling to risk his ace for a punt on Bauer.
And then the biggest element preventing anyone from picking up Trevor Bauer is his lack of an apology. As Aroldis Chapman has demonstrated, it doesn’t even have to be a sincere apology, but Bauer will eventually need to show at the very least some level of contrition.
Every player who has ever managed to put this sort of thing behind them has had to admit some level of remorse, even when they deny culpability. Julio Urias maintains his innocence in a domestic abuse allegation, even while agreeing to attend a year of domestic violence counselling, and the Dodgers are happy to have him back in the fold, welcoming him with open arms. First you go along, then you get along.
Even an apology for “using bad judgement” would give league GMs an escape hatch to cling to, something that they can wave to the public and say, “See? He has changed.” Until Bauer is willing to go at least that far, he is going to remain kryptonite around the league.
There is a road back for Trevor Bauer, especially when teams need starting pitchers as badly as they do. The teams looking at Chapman would be far, far better with Bauer on the mound than Chapman. Bauer is the better pitcher, it is just that simple.
The Rangers are building an impressive bullpen and could add his arm to their stable. It is difficult to see him in New York or Houston, but Boston or Philadelphia could take a chance on a one-year minimum pay deal.
Until contrition comes from Bauer’s part, however, the fan base will never accept him on any team. Once that hurdle is passed, and don’t think that passing it is an easy thing, certainly not when you are talking about Trevor Bauer swallowing his not inconsiderable pride, but if it can be done, then maybe Hal Steinbrenner is right. Maybe the majority of fans will eventually forget.
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