Trevor Bauer asked the multi-million dollar question.
Not about when the White Sox or Tony La Russa will address La Russa’s second DUI charge and why it didn’t affect their decision to hire the 76-year-old as their manager on Oct. 29. (A team spokesman reiterated Wednesday they won’t comment until the legal case is resolved, which won’t be anytime soon). But rather, this one:
“How’s [today’s players] going to fit with Tony La Russa, who hasn’t been in the game in that capacity in a good bit of time and in the vast majority of his managerial career took place in a much different landscape of the game?”
Bauer, who was named the National League Cy Young Award winner Wednesday night and easily the top pitcher in the free agent market, a market the Sox must tap to bolster a team they believe can contend for a World Series, discussed La Russa on his YouTube channel.
Bauer, as usual, was not at a loss for thoughts and words.
“Is he going to use analytics in a way that can help people who are analytically minded, players who think that way to move them forward?” Bauer said.
“How are the players going to perceive the manager, and there is all this stuff going around him when he comes in. The White Sox have a lot of young players, players from other countries ... and they don’t know anything different, they may have had only manager in their big league career. How are those players going to respond to this kind of firestorm?”
On Wednesday, right-hander Marcus Stroman, who would have fit nicely in the Sox rotation, made it clear he wanted no part of any such climate with La Russa at the helm, accepted the Mets’ one-year $18 million qualifying offer. Right-hander Kevin Gausman did the same with the Giants, thinning the pool a bit more.
“I don’t know [what direction the Sox are going]. I’m not part of the White Sox,” Bauer said. “Perhaps I will be at some point this offseason, perhaps I won’t. But these are questions you have to think about when it comes to attracting free agents. These are questions that I’ll be asking teams.
“The White Sox hired La Russa and then the PR nightmare commenced. So what is going on in Chicago? This is not how you’d ideally draw it up and the first question is, how are the young players going to perceive the manager when he comes in and all this stuff is going on around him?”
And what of the latest DUI, one that potentially could put the manager in jail for at least a day, perhaps during spring training or the regular season? Bauer wasn’t sure it would affect a decision.
“I’ve been fairly forgiving until I meet someone in person and have them interact with me and judge their character for myself,” he said.
“I can talk to the manager of whatever team I’m going to sign with and get to know him and understand what his principles are and how he manages, his style and stuff like that. I want to be happy wherever I choose to go, and that’s a big part of it because you interface with the manager every single day.”
As of last week, Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said La Russa hadn’t reached out to him yet. Perhaps other Sox players are waiting, as Anderson was, to hear from La Russa and then play for him before forming opinions.
Free agents have the luxury of simply avoiding making that call altogether.
And that’s not necessarily a good thing for the Sox.
“If any free agents are [anti-La Russa], then it really calls into question the effectiveness of a manager being able to lead your team,” Bauer said. “Because now you potentially have a player you would like to sign not being willing to sign with you. If you lose out on that one free agent, that could be the difference between winning the World Series and not, making the playoffs and not.”