February 2021 ENewsletter: Free Agency and the Plight of Trevor Bauer

The off-season is a time for trades, signings, and the eternal hope of every MLB team. The eternal hope is that an organization is only 1-2 players away from getting to the playoffs where anyone has a chance to get to the World Series and capture a championship ring.

That is the goal of every player, to win a championship. The goal is the same whether you’re in Little League, a travel ball tournament, or high school and college playoffs. The thrill for any athlete is to win the game. It’s built into an athlete and continues long after their playing days are done. My wife and daughter can’t stand that aspect of me because I treat every board game we play as something I need to win. It drives them nuts, but it’s part of my DNA.

As I’ve mentioned before, Trevor Bauer was literally the first player I’d ever worked with in my career as a pitching instructor. The first lesson we had went terribly in my eyes, but it got a little better each time after that. Trevor has always been a precocious young boy and took his training time seriously when it came to throwing a baseball. It served him well during his time on the William S. Hart Pony baseball team, in high school and college, and well into his professional career.

Trevor hates losing. He despises it to a fault because winning is ingrained in him. Even today, if he pitches well but his team loses, he focuses on the loss. But Trevor has pretty much been able to control the narrative mainly because his work ethic is second to none. I’ve never spent so much time around a young player that worked as hard as he did. Even when he “failed,” he worked on his flaws and weaknesses so he wouldn’t put himself in that losing position again.

However, when it comes to Trevor’s free agency it’s tough to control the narrative. When a professional player begins his career, his goal is to make it to the big leagues. That player does whatever he has to do to get to the top. Moving up the professional ladder (A ball to AA to AAA, etc.) is a direct result of the work a player puts in to will himself to a higher level along the way.

Once a player hits the big leagues, he’s obligated to his organization for 6+ years before moving to Free Agency. The organization pretty much controls the amount of money a player can make up until that time, but when a player becomes a free agent he has the luxury of deciding between multiple organizations and whomever will pay the most.

In past years, the money paid out in free agency was remarkable.  However, with fans staying home this year the owners are driving the prices for free agency down. For players such as Trevor, it limits the number of organizations who would be interested in him. It also lowers his dollar value, so he may end up making as much as $10 million less than what free agents made in previous years, and that’s frustrating.

When you hear players say, “This game is a business,” you understand more about what really goes on behind the scenes. If you’re a rookie, you get paid a certain amount, and there’s nothing you can do. But when you’ve achieved success the way Trevor has, like the 2020 Cy Young Award, he should be compensated like the best pitcher in baseball. Unfortunately, that’s not happening right now. Instead, he has to patiently  wait for a team to decide what to do. It’s not the narrative he hoped for.

There are more things that come into play, but an important lesson here is for your baseball player to enjoy every moment on the baseball field. He doesn’t need to worry about a college scholarship (right now, colleges aren’t allowed to contact you) or playing professionally down the road. Your child just needs to control what he can control, which is his attitude and positive outlook on the game. The other things will take care of themselves.

Your player can also control the narrative when it comes to improving his game.

Training classes are busy right now so don’t hesitate to contact us to get back into class today. The high school baseball season still has a shot at starting up in the next two months, so getting ready right now is important for arm health and conditioning. Warren and I are ready to keep taking you to the next level!

Until next time,

Jim