Bauer the perfect fit for NY -- and Mets 

December 10th, 2020

About a month ago, Sandy Alderson, who is back to running the baseball operation for the Mets, had this to say about , the newly minted National League Cy Young Award winner and free agent:

"This is an entertainment business. … I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York," Alderson told WFAN radio. "I think he's the kind of guy that fans would embrace."

Here was Bauer's response on Twitter, where he is as much a machine as he was pitching for the Reds last season, in what became the best season of his life in his walk year:

So here's the deal: Bauer could absolutely handle New York City. And the city could absolutely handle him. In terms of talent, personality and drama -- especially drama -- there hasn't been a star starting pitcher like him in the big city since the Mets signed Pedro Martinez in December 2004. And in all fairness, Martinez wasn't really himself by the time he got to Shea Stadium, where he really gave the Mets just one season to remind them who he was when he looked like a right-handed Sandy Koufax in his prime.

Martinez did still have enough arm to go 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA for the Mets in 2005, but he was sabotaged by injuries after that. The future Hall of Famer didn't go anywhere, but he seemed to fade away, anyway. When Martinez finally made it back to the World Series, it was with the Phillies in '09, on the other side of New York against the Yankees.

Bauer doesn't turn 30 until January. He is fully in his prime, and about the same age that Gerrit Cole was when the Yankees signed him a year ago. Cole mostly lets his pitching do his talking. Bauer does both. He was one of the two best pitchers in the world in the short season of 2020. And he talks and talks, and tweets, and posts videos, where he talks even more. The New York newspapers might need to put on extra people just to cover him on social media.

Some people are under the impression that Bauer might be too divisive in New York, or too loud even for a place that can be the capital of loud, especially in sports, and could be both a handful and a nightmare for the Mets. I've always thought guys like him were made for the city, all the way back to Reggie Jackson, who once said that he didn't need New York to make him a star because he'd be bringing his star with him.

Bauer isn't that kind of star yet, or close. But he has done everything except hire a skywriter to fly over Citi Field to get the attention of new Mets owner Steve Cohen, not that Bauer doesn't have the attention of Alderson and Cohen already. Bauer posted a video not long ago praising Cohen's vision for the Mets going forward that sounded like a dating app.

It included this line, a money line, perhaps in all ways:

"You have to know where you are trying to go."

Maybe Bauer does, too. There are all sorts of rumors out there, about whether he is the Mets' first free agent choice, or George Springer, who would be one of the best center fielders in Mets history if he did show up at Citi Field next year. Or maybe Cohen will shoot for the moon and try to sign them both. Bauer did win the NL Cy Young Award that Jacob deGrom won the two previous seasons.

You can only imagine what a dream pairing that would be at the top of the Mets' rotation, and a nightmare for everybody else -- especially if Bauer can come close to what he did last season in just 11 starts: a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 73 innings.

Of course, there are always the questions about how much you spend on a 30-year-old starter, and how many years you invest in him. The Yankees made a huge bet on Cole when he was coming off the season of his life, and he did nothing to disappoint them last season, particularly in the way he pitched in the postseason. And it's in the books what kind of pitcher Max Scherzer has been after his 30th birthday for the Nationals after he made his own free agent score with them.

A couple of years ago, Ben Reiter, writing about Bauer in Sports Illustrated, recounted a story of Bauer running in the outfield one day, when he and Michael Brantley were still teammates with the Indians, and Brantley commented on how slow Bauer was. This was Bauer's response:

"Brant, I never claimed to be fast. I'm good at two things in this world: Throwing baseballs and pissing people off."

If the Mets ever do sign Bauer, we'd know he was in town. He is a handful, and that won't change wherever he lands. While he was still in Cleveland, he once injured himself during the postseason by playing with a drone. Bauer led the charge on social media against the Astros when they were caught, in broad daylight, stealing signs. He hasn't been shy about sharing his thoughts on the current political scene. And that is the short list.

Bauer is still made for New York. He's been looking for a stage like this his whole life. The Mets want to show everybody things are going to be different under Cohen. Bauer already is.