Note to College Athletes: Probably Don’t Sign a NIL Deal With Trevor Bauer

Bauer hasn't pitched in MLB this season and is appealing his two-year suspension for sexual assault and domestic violence

Trevor Bauer at Dodger Stadium in June of 2021.
Trevor Bauer hasn't played an MLB game in well over a year.
Meg Oliphant/Getty

Put on leave in the middle of last season and then suspended in April by Major League Baseball for sexual assault and domestic violence, hurler Trevor Bauer has had a lot of time on his hands over the last 14 months.

Apparently, the 31-year-old, who is appealing his suspension and has denied “committing any violation of the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy” in the “strongest possible terms,” has kept himself busy focusing on some business ventures outside of baseball. That’s likely a smart move for Bauer, as his suspension is unpaid and his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers will be up by the time his ban from baseball is over, if it is upheld.

Per a piece in The Los Angeles Times, Bauer is attempting to get college athletes to sign NIL deals to promote his Bauer Outage line of merchandise in exchange for the opportunity to earn money and gain exposure. The athletes would have “opportunities for commission and bonuses” but would initially only receive free merchandise in exchange for creating “quality content on social media.”

“We are seeking motivated and talented college athletes to exclusively partner with me, Trevor Bauer,” according to a proposal letter signed by Bauer that was obtained by The Times.

Bauer’s brand, which also includes the athlete-driven media company Momentum that he co-founded in 2019, may not be the smartest entity for young athletes who have yet to go pro or establish themselves to become aligned with. Even if Bauer ends up winning his appeal, and he certainly still could, there will still be some who believe he is guilty of the acts he’s been accused of.

Of course, as the chief executive of a company that helps athletes connect with branding opportunities that partnered with Bauer’s Momentum in 2020 points out, Bauer still may find athletes who will take him up on his offer, the same way that polarizing sports publication Barstool Sports did when it released a NIL opportunity.

“For many readers, they may think of Barstool Sports as a tarnished brand with a bad reputation,” Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence told The Times. “The perception of a brand for an 18-22-year-old may be different than the readers of many of the sports publications out there. There is no player in the last decade that has done more to enhance the personal branding conversation in baseball than Trevor Bauer. If he wants to continue to build the brand, he has to do things that keep the brand relevant.”

That may be true, but college athletes don’t have to help him — and they probably shouldn’t out of self-preservation.

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