Cubs’ Potential Signing of Controversial Cy Young Winner Quickly Shot Down

Cubs pitching woes won't push the team to sign controversial star Trevor Bauer,

Getty Cubs pitching woes won't push the team to sign controversial star Trevor Bauer,

It’s bound to happen when a top-level pitcher for any team with designs on a playoff spot here in 2024 gets injured. There is an ace pitcher out on the market, one who is pretty well rested because he has not had a big-league start in quite some time. Problem is, he comes with some baggage. Now, the Cubs are the team with the injured ace—their top two starters are out, in fact—and the baggage starter on the market is former Dodgers star Trevor Bauer.

But, well, forget it. As quickly as the possibility is being raised, it’s being shot down. The Cubs placed Justin Steele on the 15-day injured list with a hamstring injury he suffered in the opener, and are moving forward with the stable of pitchers they have—while avoiding the instability that would come with a Bauer signing.

Rookie Ben Brown has been called up with a possible start looming this time through the rotation.

At the “Locked on Cubs” podcast, host Sam Olbur raised the possibility of adding Bauer, who has not pitched in the big leagues since mid-2021.

“The Trevor Bauer thing, it’s not a baseball thing,” Olbur said. “There’s stuff about the story that none of us know. So that’s my biggest question. What about Bauer, what about Bauer? It’s almost like I gotta put my law degree in place, that doesn’t exist.”

Co-host Matt Cozzi chimed in: “They’re gonna be internal on this, I would guess.”

Trevor Bauer’s Assault Accusation Still Lingers

As a pitcher, Bauer makes a heap of sense for the Cubs, without Steele and Jameson Taillon (back). He is a hard-throwing righty who was 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 2021 with the Dodgers, who had signed Bauer to a three-year, $102 million contract that spring.

Before that, Bauer had been sixth in Cy Young Award voting in 2018, when he went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA for Cleveland. He won the award with the Reds in 2020, going 5-4 with a league-best 1.73 ERA. For his career, he is 83-69 with a 3.9 ERA and 1,416 strikeouts in 1,297 innings. But that’s not all that is involved with Bauer, of course.

Bauer is 33 years old and had a sterling career until he was accused of sexual assault at his home in Pasadena during the 2021 season. The accusation got worse when photos of the alleged victim, Lindsey Hill, came to light. The photos showed she had been beaten up.

At the time, Hill presented hospital records that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “said she had been diagnosed with ‘acute head injury’ and ‘assault by manual strangulation’ in the wake of a sexual encounter.” Bauer was suspended, and was reinstated by MLB last year after a 194-game ban.

Cubs Criticized for Not Adding More Pitching

Bauer was never charged with any crime. Still, no team has been willing to sign him, despite his talent, the lack of persisting legal entanglement and his extremely low cost — Bauer said he’d be willing to pitch for a minimum contract.

But the Cubs, like the other 29 teams in baseball, have been unwilling to take the public relations hit that would come with signing Bauer. Unable to get a deal with a major-league club last year, he instead pitched in Japan, where he went 11-4 with a 2.59 ERA in 24 games.

Bauer aside, the Cubs are under fire recently for having not done more this offseason to secure pitching depth. They were frequently linked to lefty Jordan Montgomery, but made no effort to land him. They also could have had reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell on a reasonable deal.

On the “Cubs ReKap Podcast,” MLB analyst Gordon Wittenmyer lambasted the team for not having made a move on either pitcher. Snell went to the Giants and Montgomery went to the Diamondbacks on a reasonable one-year, $25 million contract.

“You had Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell out there nearly the entire fricking Spring Training when you saw some of this stuff develop,” Wittenmyer said. “Both those guys were still out there when Taillon went down.

“This reminds me, the way the Cubs went into the season, reminds me of me doing this podcast—they’re not wearing any pants. These guys go in with their pants down this year. They had a chance to be better prepared than that. They had a chance to put their foot on the throats of this division.”

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