The 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner is headed to the Dodgers on a mega-deal the Mets are lucky to not have to worry about.
After months of speculation, projections, and teasing, it’s now confirmed that Trevor Bauer will not join the New York Mets.
The Mets had been favorites to sign the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner for some time: new owner Steve Cohen made it clear that he’s all in on building a contender, especially after going out and acquiring superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The Bauer situation began to heat up on Thursday, when several trusted sources reported that the Mets had made an offer to the starting pitcher.
All signs indicated that that’s where he would be going. The Mets offered Bauer a deal worth around $110 million for three years, with the AAV coming out to around $40 million. It included several opt-outs, as well.
However, it became clear that Bauer had his sights set on returning home to southern California and playing for the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers are already serious contenders, as opposed to the Mets, who are in great shape but still working on getting there.
Bauer’s deal with Los Angeles is three years, $102 million with an opt-out after each year. The Mets organization and fanbase should take a breath of fresh air that Bauer chose to go out west.
They dodged a headache.
Off the field: A potential PR nightmare
Bauer’s behavior off the field should’ve been a red flag for the Mets as well as other teams that were looking to sign him.
The argument can be made that he’s helped grow the game: he interacts with the fans more than almost any other player and is always willing to share his extensive baseball knowledge with the world.
He’s also playing a significant role in teaching the fans about the importance of analytics and the science behind pitching.
As great as all this is for the growth and promotion of the game, having Bauer become one of the more vocal players is a bit of a nightmare for MLB. It also isn’t good for whatever team he plays for.
In 2016, Bauer was infamously unable to start Game 2 of the ALCS because he had sliced his finger while repairing a drone.
His stitches ended up tearing in Game 3, when he had to be pulled and, subsequently, he looked terrible in his two World Series starts. This was obviously irresponsible on his part and likely wasn’t appreciated by his teammates.
Speaking of his teammates, he doesn’t seem to be much of a well-liked guy in the clubhouse. In 2018, he took to Twitter to say that he was better than his teammate at the time, Corey Kluber. This is never a good look.
Plot twist, I was better than Kluber this year
— Trevor Bauer (トレバー・バウアー) (@BauerOutage) November 29, 2018
In an extensive Sports Illustrated piece about Bauer, some of his teammates said the team is “24 plus Trevor” and “I think Trevor cares about Trevor a lot”. I don’t know about everyone else, but I wouldn’t want my teammates or peers saying this about me.
In 2019, Bauer gave up the lead in a game against the Kansas City Royals and when Terry Francona approached the mound to pull him, Bauer turned and launched a baseball into center field.
This didn’t bode well with Francona, at all. Bauer was traded to the Cincinnati Reds not long after.
Last but certainly not least, Bauer’s thin skin and inability to be on the receiving end of criticism has gotten him into trouble.
In 2019, he harassed a female college student on Twitter after she tweeted that he was her least favorite athlete. Bauer tweeted at or about her dozens of times, and several of his fans took it upon themselves to incessantly attack her.
Now, imagine his off-the-field drama in New York, of all places.
New York is the toughest place to play in all sports. Los Angeles isn’t exactly a small city, but New York is a different animal.
It’s safe to say that Bauer could’ve easily become a PR nightmare playing for such a team as the Mets. One of the most likable and difficult to hate teams in MLB is going to stay that way.
On the field: Bauer is criminally overrated
Bauer’s shenanigans off the field should be reason enough for teams to want to avoid him. However, if they’re not, his performance as a pitcher should play a part.
Bauer might be one of the most overrated players in the game.
He undoubtedly deserved to win the Cy Young last year, but to put him up there with the best of the best is foolish and he isn’t worth nearly as much as he’ll be getting from Los Angeles. Bauer is a very good pitcher, but that’s about it.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the numbers.
Bauer made his MLB debut in 2012. His numbers since: 3.90 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 19.9 WAR, 25.4 K%, 9 BB%, .294 BABIP, 73.8 LOB%, 6.0 barrel%, 0.32 clutch, 6.06 WPA, .233 BAA, 1.26 WHIP, and 3.93 SIERA.
deGrom, who would’ve been Bauer’s teammate, boasts an ERA of 2.61, FIP of 2.75, and WAR of 34.2 (even though he didn’t make his MLB debut until 2014).
Some more deGrom stats: 29.2 K%, 6.1 BB%, .217 BAA, 1.05 WHIP, 79.3 LOB%, 4.9 barrel%, 0.94 clutch, 19.45 WPA, and 3.17 SIERA. The two cannot be compared.
Cole isn’t as world-class as deGrom, but even he’s in another tier: 3.19 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 30.1 WAR, 27.9 K%, 6.5 BB%, 76 LOB%, 5.6 barrel%, 12.42 WPA, .229 BAA, 1.12 WHIP, and 3.31 SIERA.
Heck, even Jake Odorizzi is comparable to Bauer and has better numbers in some categories!
All stats are courtesy of FanGraphs. Speaking of which, looking at pitching leaderboards since 2015 on FanGraphs will show that Bauer doesn’t even come close to the top.
One of my personal favorite fun facts about Bauer is that he has fewer sub-4.00 ERA seasons than Steven Matz. Steven Matz!
His Cy Young season aside, nothing Bauer has done on the mound warrants a $100+ million deal.
For all these reasons, the Mets have caught a break. Bauer had the potential to cause problems for the team both on and off the field and wouldn’t have been worth the money.
They claim to be all about “changing the culture”, but condemning the behavior of these two individuals and then signing a player who has committed harassment and doesn’t get along with his teammates would have been hypocritical.
The Mets are also fortunate enough to be one of the most likable teams in baseball.
They’re fun to watch and it’s difficult to dislike the players, and guys like Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, Marcus Stroman, and others have gone out of their way to contribute to the community and speak out about important issues. Throwing a guy like Bauer into that mix could’ve had toxic results.
And it’s not like his production would’ve been worth it, either. He was the best pitcher in baseball in 2020, but the chances of him doing it again are slim to none.
Giving that much money to someone who won’t live up to the contract and has the potential to be a an off-the-field problem isn’t ideal. The Mets dodged (no pun intended) a bullet here.
The Dodgers should be wary.