GOODYEAR, Ariz..— All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer thought the Cleveland Indians had presented a better overall case against him in their latest salary arbitration hearing, until the last 10 minutes he viewed as “character assassination” against him.
“That kind of put a black mark on what I thought was a really well-argued case on both sides,” Bauer said Thursday, a day after beating the Indians in arbitration for the second year in a row. “There’s no room for that. … Let’s just stick to the numbers. Let the numbers decide.”
At the hearing Wednesday in Florida, Bauer was awarded $13 million by the three-person panel over the Indians’ $11 million offer. Bauer, who won’t be eligible until free agency until after the 2020 season, said he never plans to sign more than a one-year contract. The pitcher said the process hasn’t soured his feelings about the team.
“No, I understand it,” Bauer said. “I look at it as a very intellectual pursuit. It’s very intellectual and not very emotional. They actually apologized to me immediately afterward, the other side in front of the arbitrator.”
Bauer pointed out that “the higher-ups on the team don’t go. They have lawyers argue the case for them.”
He said he had sent formal personalized invitations to Indians president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mitch Chernoff to attend his hearing, and said he was hurt that they didn’t show up.
Manager Terry Francona went up to Bauer in the clubhouse before Thursday’s workout, congratulating him and shaking his hand.
In his 2018 arbitration case, he got a bump from $3.55 million to $6.525 million after Cleveland offered $5.3 million.
“Last year was very mild,” he said.
The 28-year-old right-hander, a first-time All-Star last year, finished sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting after going 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA. He missed six weeks late in the season after getting hit on the right leg by a line drive.
In seven seasons with the Indians, Bauer is 59-47 with a 3.94 ERA in 160 games. He has won 52 games the past four years.
Bauer already anticipates going through the arbitration process again next year.
“I’m going to set the record raise and record salary in arbitration for a starting pitcher next year,” he said. “So I can’t imagine the (MLB Labor Relations Department) will ever allow a team to just agree, whether it’s the Indians or another team.”
The pitcher said his 2018 season could have been worth $30 million on the free agent market.
“Next year I expect to be paid in line with what my season in 2019 is worth, which would never be agreed upon before a hearing,” he said.