Bauer agreed to a heavily front-loaded deal with the defending World Series champions, who will be paying him $40 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022. On Thursday, Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, tweeted that the sweepstakes was down to two teams, presumed to be the Mets and the Dodgers. As of just before Bauer’s announcement - shared in a video on his social media platforms - the Mets were considered the front runners to land Bauer.
The Los Angeles-area native struggled in his first four seasons as a starter for Arizona and Cleveland, posting an 18-24 record in 64 starts. He steadily improved his production over the next couple of seasons before breaking out in 2018, notching his first All-Star appearance and registering a league-leading 2.44 FIP. Cleveland traded Bauer to the Reds in 2019, and in 2020 Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award in an abbreviated season.
While Bauer has been quite effective over the last three seasons, his off the field persona, specifically his online behavior, has soured the profile of what should be one of the biggest signings of the off-season. Bauer has a reputation as a troll, a bully, and someone whose actions could be considered cyber abuse. For an organization that recently fired its general manager for untoward behavior and had its former manager revealed to have sexually harassed multiple women while in that position, the Mets likely dodged, pardon the pun, quite the public relations bullet by not signing Bauer.
The Mets will likely turn their attention towards greater positional needs. This may include acquiring a center fielder, as they’ve been linked in discussions with free agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and potentially another starting pitcher to bolster an already improved rotation.