Bauer to L.A.: 'I can't wait, Dodger fans'

February 5th, 2021

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 the latest on the star pitcher, who turned 30 on Jan. 17. Bauer received the $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Reds and will be tied to Draft-pick compensation after declining it.

Bauer announces deal with Dodgers

Feb. 5: After a prolonged period of wait-and-see, Bauer has made his decision: He's heading west.

The top free-agent pitcher announced via his YouTube channel that he has picked the Dodgers as his next team.

"I can't wait, Dodger fans," said Bauer, decked out in a full Dodgers uniform, at the end of the video.'s Mark Feinsand reports that Bauer's deal is worth $102 million across three years, and contains opt-outs after each of the first two seasons. Bauer will earn $40 million in 2021, making him the highest-paid player (any position) in MLB history, and then $45 million in '22.

The deal gives the already pitching-rich Dodgers a rotation that matches up evenly with the improvements the Padres made to their rotation this winter.

Bauer race appears to be down to two teams

Feb. 4: The race to land Bauer appears to be down to the Mets and Dodgers, according to’s Mark Feinsand.

Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, seemingly confirmed the number of teams left in the running with her tweet Thursday afternoon, although she didn't provide any other details.

Are the Mets in the lead? SNY’s Andy Martino is hearing that the two sides are “quite serious."'s Jon Paul Morosi adds that New York is "increasingly confident" of their position.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes that the Mets expect the situation to be resolved one way or another within the next 24 hours or so.

While many of the other top free agents have signed, Bauer remains available, but that might not be the case for much longer.

Report: Mets offer short-term deal; what will Bauer accept?

Jan. 28: The Mets are presumably in the catbird seat for the Bauer sweepstakes, and we may be getting some clarity on their conversations with the star pitcher. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports that New York's current offer to Bauer is thought to be of the short-term variety for three to four years, but it currently doesn't challenge Gerrit Cole's record ($36 million) for the highest-ever average annual value.

As Heyman notes, there is still a mystery as to whether Bauer would prefer that highly loaded, short-term type of contract or a longer pact that could challenge for the largest contracts in terms of total value. The economic climate amid the coronavirus pandemic could make it more unlikely that a team commits to the kind of large total sums that Cole and Stephen Strasburg netted last winter, especially since both the Mets and Dodgers -- who Heyman cites as New York's biggest competition at the moment -- are both thought to prefer shorter contract offers.

Report: Angels' likelihood of signing Bauer 'is practically zero'

Jan. 28: The Angels were expected to be a major player in the Bauer sweepstakes since the offseason began. Bauer is a southern California native, the Halos play in a huge media market and they are as seemingly desperate for a frontline starting pitcher as any contender out there.

But the Angels might not be in the race after all, per a report from Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times.

"With a few weeks remaining until the scheduled start of spring training," Torres writes, "the Angels have yet to land a frontline starter. Unless there is a significant philosophical shift, they won’t. And that means the likelihood of signing top free-agent starter Trevor Bauer is practically zero."

Los Angeles is roughly $24 million below the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold, Torres notes, meaning the club would likely need to trade a few players to clear up room to sign Bauer to a contract containing the $30 million-plus average annual value he desires. Bauer did also not get along with current Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway when the two worked together previously in Cleveland. A source tells Torres that the relationship between those two has "eroded beyond repair."

All this means the Angels might go shopping for "Tier 2" free-agent starters instead of Bauer, and that means the Mets -- who might have traded Steven Matz to the Blue Jays on Wednesday in order to free up financial room for Bauer -- could have one less major rival to bid against. The Blue Jays also appear to be out of the Bauer race, now that they have landed their marquee free agent in center fielder George Springer. While the Dodgers could still be in play to offer a loaded, short-term deal, the Mets may be moving into the driver's seat for the offseason's top available starter.

Are Mets making push for Bauer?

Jan. 27: The Mets freed up some more payroll flexibility Wednesday, when they traded Steven Matz to the Blue Jays in exchange for a trio of right-handed prospects.

Matz, 29, is set to make $5.2 million in 2021, which will now come off the books for New York.

One of the Mets' biggest barriers to signing Bauer has been the $210 million competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold. Prior to the Matz deal, New York's tax figure was sitting roughly $27 million below that threshold, per Roster Resource.

The additional money freed up could go toward landing Bauer, though the Mets could also still be looking for an upgrade in center field. The club is also considering contract extensions for both Lindor and outfielder Michael Conforto, each of whom are free agents after this season.

Are Blue Jays out of Bauer sweepstakes?

Jan. 27: As the Blue Jays introduced their newest superstar in center fielder George Springer on Wednesday, they might have indicated that they're dropping out of the running for Bauer. Toronto president and CEO Mark Shapiro told reporters that while the club still has "some flexibility" to improve its roster, the "bulk of our heavy lifting is done."

While this week's additions of Springer and infielder Marcus Semien (per sources) undoubtedly boosted the Blue Jays' offense, upgrades to their rotation remain the largest unchecked box on their offseason to-do list. While opening the purse-strings for Springer may have taken Bauer out of play, Toronto still sits roughly $64 million below the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold, per Roster Resource. As Blue Jays radio broadcaster Mike Wilner notes above, that means the Blue Jays could still chase one or several Tier 2 free-agent starters like Jake Odorizzi, Taijuan Walker or James Paxton before Opening Day.

Meanwhile, if the Blue Jays are indeed out of the bidding for Bauer, the star pitcher's field could be down to just a few teams willing to spend what it takes to sign him. The Mets and Dodgers have reportedly shown interest in high-average annual value, short-term deals, and the Angels have a clear hole atop their rotation.

Mets believed to be in on Bauer

Jan. 26: A USA Today report emerged Tuesday saying the Mets were willing to top Gerrit Cole's $36 million average annual value in a shorter-term deal for Bauer, but multiple reports have now disputed that. According to's Mark Feinsand, the Mets are believed to be interested and in the mix for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

The Mets have Jacob deGrom atop their rotation, which struggled in 2020 aside from the two-time Cy Young winner. The Mets' 5.37 starters ERA was fifth-worst in baseball. Marcus Stroman, who did not pitch in '20, will be back, and the team acquired Carlos Carrasco in a trade with the Indians. Noah Syndergaard is due back around midseason after Tommy John surgery.

Report: Mets sharpening focus on Bauer

Jan. 23: The Mets have made major improvements to their rotation depth in recent weeks, acquiring right-hander Carlos Carrasco alongside shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland, and then acquiring southpaw Joey Lucchesi from the Padres. But their biggest pitching upgrade of all could still be in the offing with Bauer, as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports in The Athletic (subscription required).

"The Mets’ interest in Bauer is not new," Rosenthal writes, "but sources said it has become more focused in recent days, in the wake of the Blue Jays reaching an agreement with free-agent outfielder George Springer on a six-year, $150 million contract."

The one barrier between Bauer and the Mets could be the $210 million competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold. New York's tax figure currently sits roughly $27 million below that threshold, per Roster Resource, and the club could still be looking for an upgrade in center field. The Mets are also considering contract extensions for both Lindor and outfielder Michael Conforto, each of whom are free agents after this season.

Rosenthal speculates that the Mets, like the Dodgers, might prefer to sign Bauer to a short-term deal loaded with a high average annual value. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, other teams have indicted that Bauer prefers a longer deal, though agent Rachel Luba has said the right-hander is open to many different contract structures.

Heyman previously reported that the Mets could be prioritizing other free-agent targets, including center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., ahead of Bauer. One potential target, utilityman Enrique Hernández, reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Red Sox on Friday.