Will Trevor Bauer, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish thrive ... or struggle? What to expect from 2021's MLB aces in new places

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In a spring training game last weekend, Trevor Bauer pitched the first inning with one eye closed. That he did it against the Padres, the Dodgers' new archrival in the National League West, suggests it was perhaps a bit of gamesmanship, although Bauer attempted a different explanation after the game. "I like making myself uncomfortable and throwing different stuff my way and trying to find a solution for it," he said. "That's how you improve. Find a way to make yourself uncomfortable, then get comfortable with it and do it again."

Of course, in true Bauer fashion, he also deadpanned that "I figured if they can't score off of me with one eye open, it's going to be difficult to score off me with two eyes open."

One thing we do know is that all eyes will be on Bauer heading into 2021. Coming off his Cy Young season with Cincinnati, Bauer signed a complicated three-year contract with the Dodgers that will pay him at least $38 million in 2021 and up to $47 million in 2022 if he opts out after that season. When you're the reigning Cy Young winner, joining the reigning World Series champions, and now one of the highest-paid players in the sport with an active -- and at times controversial -- presence on social media, you better deliver the goods. You can argue that no player in 2021 has more pressure to perform than Bauer.

He's not the only Cy Young contender to change teams this offseason, however. Four days after Christmas, the Padres officially acquired 2020 Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish from the Cubs and 2018 American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Rays in one of the most impressive single-day hauls in MLB history, sending expectations soaring in San Diego. Pressure on those two to perform is thus acute as well.