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Mets pitchers and catchers report to spring training in less than two weeks, and by Friday afternoon team officials should know whether Trevor Bauer will be among those attending.
The ace right-hander’s agent, Rachel Luba, announced Thursday on Twitter that Bauer has narrowed his choices to two teams. The Mets are a known finalist, and all indications point to the Dodgers as the other.
Bauer, the top free-agent starting pitcher on the market, received an offer from the Mets about three weeks ago, according to an industry source. The belief in the industry has been that if offers are close Bauer will choose the Mets because a desire to grow his personal brand in the biggest market possible.
Bauer has sought to become baseball’s highest-paid pitcher in terms of average annual value, but the Mets’ initial offer to him was short of the $36 million per year Gerrit Cole is receiving from the Yankees, according to a source. Multiple reports pinned the Mets’ offer at three years (north of $30 million annually) with an opt out.
Last season the 30-year-old Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award, after going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts for the Reds. His addition would give the Mets a dynamic 1-2 punch atop their rotation, with Jacob deGrom (who won the Cy Young Award in 2018 and ’19) as the other component.
Already, the Mets have enjoyed a fruitful winter under new owner Steve Cohen, with the trade that brought Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland. Bauer’s addition would reunite three components from the Indians’ World Series run in 2016.
James McCann and Trevor May, both of whom signed as free agents, are the Mets’ other significant additions this winter. That doesn’t include Marcus Stroman, who accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer to return for 2021.
The Mets’ rotation to begin the season would potentially be deGrom, Bauer, Carrasco, Stroman and David Peterson. By June, the team is hoping Noah Syndergaard returns from Tommy John surgery rehab to provide another high-octane arm.
Other rotation possibilities include Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto, both of whom arrived in trades and have minor league options remaining.
Wherever he lands, Bauer’s words will be scrutinized following multiple incidents of social media bullying. Most notably, he harassed a female college student on Twitter two years ago and later apologized. Bauer’s responses to the woman included digging up a photo from her timeline of her drinking before her 21st birthday, subjecting her to ridicule by his 414,000 followers. Bauer tweeted 17 times at the woman or at others while discussing her over three days.
Already this winter, the Mets have been connected to two embarrassing incidents. Last month general manager Jared Porter was fired for harassing a female journalist with lewd text messages when he worked for the Cubs in 2016. And earlier this week The Athletic reported former Mets manager Mickey Callaway harassed female media members with texts, including during his tenure in Queens.
Team president Sandy Alderson hired both Porter and Callaway and has indicated a need for implementing tighter background checks.
“I have been made aware that some of the interactions related to a specific Twitter exchange may have had a negative impact,” Bauer said in a recent statement. “That was not my intention. I will wield the responsibility of my public platform more responsibly in the future.”
Bauer’s addition would put the Mets right up against or above the luxury-tax threshold of $210 million. If they surpass the figure they will pay a 20 percent penalty on every dollar spent beyond $210 million.
But even with Bauer, the Mets might not be finished spending as they look for potential upgrades in center field and at third base.
If the Mets don’t sign Bauer, they could pivot toward a middle of the rotation option such as Jake Odorizzi or James Paxton.
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