One year. Forty million dollars.
I would not sign Trevor Bauer if I ran the Mets. My rule: When it comes to players with whom there is great concern, I would rather they succeed for a competitor than fail for me — after all, how do I sleep should I enter into a marriage with that kind of concern and my worst fears are realized?
But if the Mets are determined to sign Bauer, then the offer should be one year, $40 million. If Bauer says yes, that would allow the Mets to land one of the most talented pitchers in the world, and if it all goes horribly wrong, they are done after one season — a season, by the way, in which half his salary is offset by not having to pay Robinson Cano in 2021. If all goes right, the Mets are now owned by Steve Cohen and can revisit the long, mammoth contract a year from now when they know Bauer and Bauer knows them way better.
Would Bauer do this? Probably not. Players and their representatives usually chase the most total dollars, and Bauer may get that — the Mets are reportedly offering at least $30 million annually for three years and giving Bauer the chance to opt out after one year.
But he has said before he is not afraid to try to maximize his value year to year because he believes his training methods will protect his health. And this is maximizing one-year value. The highest annual average on any contract is Gerrit Cole’s $36 million, so though it is just one year, Bauer blows that away.
I would suggest even Bauer might be best served having a trial run after calling his baseball homes Arizona, Cleveland and Cincinnati. He can see whether he likes taking his skills, personality and brand-building aspirations to New York with all the good and bad that comes with it.
Look, a quarter of a century ago I recommended the Yankees not sign Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry for the same “I would rather they succeed for you than fail for me” philosophy. And the Yankees probably don’t win the 1996 World Series without their efforts.
And if Bauer came to the Mets, their title chances grow. Last season was possibly Year 1 of his ample skill and pitching genius harmonizing to set up an extended run of greatness. Put that with Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and eventually Noah Sydergaard, a very good offense and a possibly upgraded bullpen and defense, and why not for the 2021 Mets?
But the more you spend, the fewer questions you should have. And before the Mets spend the long money, they should at least make the one-year offer with Cohen’s financial heft to better gauge what they have. This would be a suggestion to any team, but the Mets in particular.
I want to be clear that I am not equating Bauer to guys with drug problems — his reputation is as someone who does not even consume alcohol. But he is a polarizing player both on and off the field, someone who would arrive with questions because he will buck authority (sometimes publicly) when he feels it is wrong. He also has an aggressive social media presence that can skirt the line between provocative and provoking.
Most concerning is a few incidents in which he has not only gone after women, but by doing so unleashed — wittingly or unwittingly — an unsavory portion of his followers to pile on.
Cohen recently deleted his Twitter account because of piling on that he said included death threats to his family revolving around his involvement with GameStop. Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management firm has faced discrimination claims from ex-female employees.
This offseason the Mets fired recently hired GM Jared Porter after a series of lewd, badgering text messages to a female reporter surfaced. And in the last week their former manager, Mickey Callaway, had five women step forward in an article on The Athletic claiming inappropriate and salacious texts and behavior, including while Callaway managed the Mets.
Bauer’s behavior does not rise near the malfeasance that Porter copped to and is alleged against Callaway. But Sandy Alderson hired both Porter and Callaway. He said in the aftermath of both disturbing revelations that had he known prior, he would not have hired Porter or Callaway. He knows what he knows about Bauer. Now. Today.
It is possible that is outweighed by Bauer’s talent. And also any deep dive the Mets have done that shows many more dimensions than what is exposed on even his voluminous social media. The Mets have, for example, his former Cleveland teammates Carrasco and Francisco Lindor to provide firsthand knowledge. And though it is easy to find Bauer detractors, it is not hard to find supporters as well.
It seems overt that he adores the craft of pitching and is dedicated to not only self-improvement but sharing what he knows. He wants to build his brand, but within that he is bringing fans to the game who might not otherwise find it.
It is possible with age — Bauer turned 30 last month — comes wisdom and the understanding not all fights are worth having on the swamp that social media can be, no matter how aggrieved you feel.
Bauer might be a terrific big personality for the Mets. But there is enough risk and concern that they should offer $40 million for one year to learn for themselves.