Bauer tries to downplay Cole feud in search of big bucks, but Mets could be better fit for Cy Young winner

NEW YORK — New York City could be big enough for both of them, maybe even the Bronx. After winning the National League Cy Young Award Wednesday night, Trevor Bauer played down his once publicly contentious relationship with Gerrit Cole. The former UCLA teammates, who went first (Cole) and third (Bauer) in the 2011 draft, have a rivalry going back to college.

But Bauer, who is hitting the free-agent market this winter, called it a “fictitious beef” last month and doubled down on that Wednesday.

“I have nothing wrong with Gerrit,” Bauer said. “We had our differences in college and that was nine or 10 years ago at this point. I’m a different person now than I was then. I’m sure the same is true for him.”

With the Yankees historically known for their big checkbook, it’s smart business for the right-hander to try and eliminate any roadblocks there. While the Yankees, fresh off having given Cole a nine-year, $324 million deal, seem reluctant to get back into that market right now, having them as a team to play off other potential suitors is always wise for a free agent.

And Bauer is obviously smart.

He began back in October when the Yankees were struggling for starting pitching in the American League Division Series. As he did with other teams looking for starters, Bauer tweeted at the Yankees. In the fans’ replies, however, the “feud” with Cole was mentioned.

“I would have to say the odds of the earth burning up are better than (Cole and Bauer settling their differences),” former UCLA assistant coach Rick Vanderbook told USA Today in 2018. “That’s not going to happen. It’s just not. They are opposites, just such complete opposites.”

But Bauer replied to those responses by calling it a “fictitious beef.”

In a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated, Bauer said Cole ripped him in front of their teammates freshman year for not following the Bruins’ weight training program.

“We don’t have much of a relationship,” Bauer said. “I would say he lives his life and I live mine. We don’t cross paths a whole lot. It’s certainly not the hate-filled relationship many people in the media believe it is or try to make it out to be.”

And Bauer even gave Cole something of a compliment.

“At the end of the day, I want to win. I hate losing. It drives me nuts,” Bauer said. “It was pretty evident from watching him pitch and watching his performances in the postseason and how into it he is, that he feels the same way.”

Still, Bauer seems more like a fit for the new financially fit and yearning to be fun Mets than the staid and traditional Yankees.

After winning the first ever Cy Young for the Reds, Bauer is going to be one of the few players who avoids the ice-cold, coronavirus-pandemic tax on the free agent market this winter. He had said in the past he would likely try to do one-year deals in free agency to try and maximize his value. Coming off a dominant, albeit pandemic-shortened season, Bauer’s value has never been higher.

The Yankees, who have already sounded the alarm on their finances, are just in the first year of that $324 million deal with Cole.

And Bauer fits into the script for the Mets to change the narrative. With hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen looking to win a World Series in three to five years, Bauer would be a big-splash signing. And they’ve already begun the public dance and flirting.

The new Mets team president said he thought Bauer “would be a great personality in New York. (He’s) the kind of guy that fans would endorse. We’re in the entertainment business.”

And imagine how entertaining it would be for Mets fans to not only have Bauer in a rotation with Jacob deGrom, who has won the previous two Cy Young awards, along with Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. Also imagine how satisfying it would be for Mets fans to have Bauer, who is outspoken and opinionated on social media and every platform, helping the Mets compete in the same media market that has treated them like the little step brother to the Yankees for all those years.


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