Bauer on cusp of decision: Mets vs. Dodgers

February 5th, 2021

The sweepstakes could be drawing to a conclusion.

The Mets continued to engage in talks with Bauer’s camp on Thursday, according to sources, while the Dodgers remain in the mix to sign the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner.

As Bauer news began spreading via social media shortly after 4 p.m. ET, Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, tweeted, “Down to 2,” another indication that New York and Los Angeles were the finalists for the starting pitcher’s services.

Despite the social media chatter, sources said that Bauer had not made any decision regarding his future as of Thursday evening, adding that no deal had been struck with any team. It’s unclear whether that decision would come by Friday as some reports have suggested it might.

For the Mets, Bauer would represent their biggest free agent deal since they re-signed Yoenis Céspedes to a four-year, $110 million deal following the 2016 season. This has been a busy offseason in Queens, as the club -- under new owner Steve Cohen -- has already acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco in a trade with the Indians, and signed catcher James McCann, starter Marcus Stroman and outfielder/first baseman José Martínez, as well as relievers Trevor May and Aaron Loup.

New York has had its share of controversy this offseason, too. Only weeks after hiring Jared Porter as the club’s new general manager, the Mets fired him when an ESPN report revealed he had sent inappropriate text messages to a woman reporter in 2016.

Last week, a report by The Athletic revealed that former Mets manager Mickey Callaway had been accused of lewd behavior by five women, and that some of the incidents took place while he was at the helm in New York, again bringing the Mets’ culture into question.

Bauer’s own social media history raised concerns about whether the Mets should sign him, especially given everything that has happened this offseason. Two years ago, Bauer got into a back-and-forth with a college student who said she had been harassed by Bauer’s fans following the incident.

Shortly thereafter, Bauer tweeted: “I often defend myself against internet trolling, bullying and slander. My responses to fans are good-natured. I do not encourage any of my fans, followers, or friends to attack, insult or harass anyone on any social media platform, or in real life. There is no room for that in the world. I have been made aware that some of the interactions related to a specific Twitter exchange may have had a negative impact. That was not my intention. I will wield the responsibility of my public platform more responsibly in the future.”

This past summer, there was another incident in which Bauer got into a Twitter spat with a reporter, and the reporter was harassed by Bauer’s fans in the aftermath.

It’s unclear whether Bauer’s social media history would stop the Mets from signing him, and sources said the team has had internal discussions on the matter. But at this point, it appears the Mets are willing to bring him aboard if they can come to terms.

New York’s rotation is currently led by 2018 and ’19 NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, followed by Stroman, Carrasco, David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi. Noah Syndergaard, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, is expected to be back sometime this summer.

The Mets reportedly made a “formal offer” to Bauer three weeks ago, according to USA Today, which reported the deal was for three or four years at an average annual value of at least $30 million per year.

The Dodgers are believed to be interested in a shorter-term deal, a source said, a one- or two-year offer possibly worth more than $36 million annually. That would represent the largest average annual value in history, currently held by Gerrit Cole at $36 million.

Bauer’s camp has been making comparisons to Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg while pitching the Cy Young winner to potential suitors, though Bauer was never expected to land a deal close to the total guaranteed dollars those two received last winter. Still, his case for a deal with a similar AAV holds some merit.

Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees in December 2019, currently holds the record for highest average annual value at $36 million. Strasburg’s seven-year, $245 million deal with the Nationals -- which he agreed to the same week Cole came to terms with the Yankees -- has an AAV of $35 million.

The Dodgers are fresh off their first World Series title since 1988, but Los Angeles hasn’t made any major additions to its talented roster this offseason outside of the bullpen, where the club signed Blake Treinen and traded for Corey Knebel.

Los Angeles’ rotation is headlined by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, with David Price (who declined to play last season), Dustin May, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin also on the roster.