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Bauer reportedly on this team's wish list

November 24, 2020

Trevor Bauer has always been one of MLB's most analytical and outspoken players, but strictly in terms of performance, he hardly could have put up a stronger platform season (11 starts, NL-best 1.73 ERA, 100-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 73 innings) before his first foray into free agency. His stellar campaign

Trevor Bauer has always been one of MLB's most analytical and outspoken players, but strictly in terms of performance, he hardly could have put up a stronger platform season (11 starts, NL-best 1.73 ERA, 100-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 73 innings) before his first foray into free agency. His stellar campaign was recognized with the NL Cy Young Award.

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the star pitcher, who turns 30 in January. Bauer received the $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Reds and will be tied to Draft-pick compensation after declining it.

Report: Mets targeting multiple big names

Nov. 24: On the day the Braves made another free-agent signing, agreeing with starter Charlie Morton, ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Mets are looking to be aggressive this offseason, too. According to Olney's source, the Mets are looking to acquire multiple of the "big four" this offseason -- identified by Olney as Bauer, George Springer, J.T. Realmuto and Francisco Lindor, with DJ LeMahieu likely the fifth on that list.

Interestingly, DJ LeMahieu wasn't among the players Olney mentioned. There's been some speculation that the Mets could pursue the second baseman after Robinson Canó was suspended for 162 games without pay, leaving the team with a hole at the keystone and trimming $20.25 million from the 2021 payroll.

The Mets are expected to increase payroll this offseason under new owner Steve Cohen, and they have already been linked to Lindor trade chatter.

Bauer praises Mets, 'excited to see what happens'

Nov. 15: In his latest YouTube video in a series he introduced at the beginning of the offseason, Bauer spent about 17 minutes discussing the Mets and new owner Steve Cohen. Bauer was effusive in his praise for how Cohen has begun his regime in Queens, outlining four specific areas in which he thinks Cohen has gotten off to a "brilliant" start -- and that's what the video is entitled: "Steve Cohen's BRILLIANT Start."

This is obviously notable given Bauer's free agency and the fact that he will at some point over the next couple of months choose where he'll be pitching next season. Could the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner end up in Queens?

"The first thing that he did, the very first thing before anyone even knew he was on Twitter, is he got on Twitter and connected with the Mets fans, sending a simple tweet asking what they could do to make the Mets' fans' experience better," Bauer said.

Bauer went on to his second point -- Cohen set a clear goal for the franchise over the short- to medium-term.

"He came out and said [the goal] is a World Series in three to five years," Bauer said. "He outlined the 'what' -- that is the goal, that is where we are going."

Bauer's third point was that Cohen "defined the 'how'" with respect to achieving that goal. And fourth, Bauer said Cohen is differentiating the Mets from the Yankees as their main competition.

Bad news for the Yanks?

"If the Mets are going to come in and try to beat the Yankees at [their] game, they're going to lose, because the Yankees have a long history of doing it that way," he said. "How do you compete in the business world? Well, you find a different route -- something that's different, unique."

Throughout the video, Bauer lauded Cohen's business-like approach so far, mentioning Cohen seems to view running a baseball franchise like he runs his hedge fund, particularly with respect to data and analytics.

Needless to say, things just got very interesting in the Bauer-Mets-Yankees free agency triangle.

Experts say Bauer signs with ...

Nov. 12: Fresh off his National League Cy Young Award win, Bauer was the topic of conversation in MLB.com's latest experts roundtable, as Reds beat reporter Mark Sheldon, Angels beat reporter Rhett Bollinger, national reporter Richard Justice and reporter/editor Sarah Langs convened to offer up their thoughts on Bauer's free-agent destination.

All four experts see Bauer leaving Cincinnati to sign with the Mets, who have a new owner in Steve Cohen with deep pockets and a willingness to spend big immediately. More >

Bauer: 'I have nothing wrong with Gerrit'

Nov. 12: It's been well documented that Bauer did not have the best relationship with Gerrit Cole when the two aces were teammates at UCLA. But Bauer made it clear that's all in the past.

"I have nothing wrong with Gerrit," Bauer said on a conference call after winning the National League Cy Young Award on Wednesday. "We had our differences in college and that was nine or 10 years ago at this point. I'm a different person now than I was then. I'm sure the same is true for him."

Bauer's thoughts on Cole are noteworthy because the Yankees, who signed Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract last offseason, are thought to be a possible suitor for Bauer with Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ all reaching free agency. More >

Bauer’s value continues to grow

Nov. 11: While Bauer was already the clear-cut No. 1 free-agent starter, the distance between himself and the field widened Wednesday, when Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman accepted one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offers from the Mets and Giants, respectively.

In MLB Trade Rumors’ view, Stroman and Gausman would have been the second- and third-best starters on the market after Bauer if they didn’t accept the QO. MLBTR ranked Stroman sixth overall and Gausman ninth among the top 50 free agents.

Mid-level options Charlie Morton, Jake Odorizzi, Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton now top the list of the best alternatives.

Bauer has Draft-pick compensation attached to him after he didn’t accept the Reds’ qualifying offer, but that is unlikely to significantly hinder his market, given the demand for top-tier starting pitchers.

Alderson: Bauer would be ‘great personality’ in NY

Nov. 10: Bauer’s outspoken reputation might cause some teams to shy away from him this offseason, but Mets team president Sandy Alderson indicated in an appearance on WFAN on Tuesday that he’s actually a fan of the free-agent right-hander’s brash personality.

“This is an entertainment business,” Alderson told hosts Craig Carton and Evan Roberts. “... We’ve got to be open-minded about how players express themselves. And the thing that’s interesting about Bauer is that he brings along with him a lot of ideas, a lot of routines [and] a sort of technical orientation that I bet we can learn from.

“If guys see someone performing, they’ll live with whatever the baggage is. I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York. I think he’s the kind of guy that fans would embrace.”

It's important to note that teams aren't allowed to explicitly express disinterest in a free agent or say anything negative about an unsigned player, as the Players Association would argue that it depresses the market. But after Alderson went out of his way to compliment Bauer, the Mets can't be ruled out as a landing spot for the righty.

With new owner Steve Cohen taking the reins, the Mets are expected to be one of this offseason’s most aggressive clubs. New York has been mentioned as a potential suitor for free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto and center fielder George Springer, as well as Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor on the trade market.

But with Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha hitting free agency and Steven Matz a candidate to be non-tendered, the club could use rotation help behind ace Jacob deGrom, and it may want to aim higher after Porcello and Wacha -- who both signed one-year deals last offseason -- combined for a 6.00 ERA in 2020.

Reds unlikely to re-sign Bauer?

Nov. 9: Bauer turned in a 2020 season that will likely earn him the National League Cy Young Award, helping the Reds reach the postseason for the first time since ’13. However, Cincinnati seems more likely than not to lose the right-hander to free agency.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), the Reds’ plan when they acquired Bauer prior to the Trade Deadline in 2019 was to make the postseason at least once in his two pennant races with the club, then use the increased revenues to try to re-sign him. While Cincinnati was able to reach the playoffs in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented it from seeing any sort of financial reward.

The Reds extended a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to Bauer, but his agent, Rachel Luba, confirmed on Twitter that the 29-year-old will decline it. If he signs elsewhere, Cincinnati will receive Draft-pick compensation.

Is Bauer the Angels' missing postseason piece?

Nov. 6: For years, the Angels have been searching in vain for a No. 1 starter to help propel them to the postseason for the first time since 2014. Could Bauer's be the arm that gets Mike Trout and company back to the playoffs? MLB.com's Mark Feinsand thinks so, citing Bauer's familiarity with Southern California (he grew up there and attended UCLA) and the chance for the franchise to finally have that elite arm to anchor its rotation. More >

Agent: Bauer will reject Reds' QO

Nov. 4: Bauer was highly expected to reject the one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer extended to him by the Reds and enter the free-agent market. But now we have proof of that decision from the closest primary source besides Bauer himself: his agent, Rachel Luba.

Coming off an NL Cy Young Award-caliber season and, by most every opinion, the top potential free-agent pitcher of the 2020-21 offseason, Bauer is betting that the average annual value of his contract will exceed that of the qualifying offer. That seems likely, based on the estimates already put out by several national sources. MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Bauer will sign a four-year, $128 million contact ($32 million AAV), ESPN insider Kiley McDaniel (subscription required) tabbed Bauer for a one-year, $31 million deal and FanGraphs' crowdsourced projections see him signing a three-year, $87 million deal ($29 million AAV).

Regardless, it's all but official: Bauer will be a free agent after the Nov. 11 qualifying-offer decision deadline.

Execs tab Bauer as No. 1 pitcher available

Nov. 4: In an MLB.com poll of 21 executives around the league, Bauer was the only pitcher to receive votes as the No. 1 overall free agent this offseason.

Bauer received six votes, second to catcher J.T. Realmuto (10 votes). Bauer polled ahead of both George Springer (four votes) and DJ LeMahieu (one vote).

One executive told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that Bauer "has clearly separated himself" from the rest of the free-agent pitchers this offseason. Another who picked Bauer as his top free agent said, "There are just so few legitimate impact pitchers available, and he’s proven both extremely effective and durable."

A third executive said that of all the free agents available, "I'd bet on Bauer having the most single-season impact for a championship-type team." More >

Will Bauer join Trout in Anaheim?

Nov. 2: After failing to reel in Southern California kid Gerrit Cole last offseason, could the Angels turn to Bauer -- Cole’s former UCLA teammate -- to solve their rotation woes? Former MLB GM and current MLB Network Radio analyst Jim Duquette thinks so.

Duquette predicts the Angels will land Bauer for $140 million over six years, adding him to a rotation that includes Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning, Andrew Heaney and possibly Shohei Ohtani.

Los Angeles traded for Bundy and signed Anthony Rendon last offseason, but it wasn’t enough to get to the postseason for the second time in Mike Trout’s career. Trout is an all-time great, but he has played just three career playoff games, none since 2014.

With Albert Pujols’ contract coming off the books following the 2021 season and Justin Upton’s the year after, the Angels can likely afford to add another long-term, big-money deal this offseason.