Pros and Cons of Mets signing free agent Trevor Bauer

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Danny Abriano
·4 min read
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Trevor Bauer walking off mound TREATED ART
Trevor Bauer walking off mound TREATED ART

The Mets went 26-34 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB season, underachieving badly and missing the playoffs due in large part to a starting rotation whose members knocked New York out of games in the early innings with stunning regularity.

By trading for Carlos Carrasco, the Mets -- who got a boost when Marcus Stroman accepted the one-year, qualifying offer, are now in pretty good shape when it comes to the rotation.

Carrasco and Stroman join ace Jacob deGrom and David Peterson, while -- at the moment -- Steven Matz could be the favorite for the No. 5 spot. Meanwhile, Noah Syndergaard is making progress as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery, and could rejoin the rotation around June.

If the Mets want to put an exclamation point on their offseason, though, Trevor Bauer -- whom the team is seriously interested in -- remains on the free agent market.

Bauer, whose dominant 2020 season led to him winning the NL Cy Young award, seems to have turned into a true ace. But there are serious risks involved when it comes to signing him.

Should the Mets pounce? Let's examine the pros and cons, starting with the cons...

CONS

Is this the real Bauer?

Bauer's numbers in 2020 were otherworldly. He had a 1.73 ERA (2.88 FIP) and 0.79 WHIP while striking out 12.33 batters per 9 in 73 IP (11 starts).

Additionally, Bauer's metrics were mostly great, suggesting that he's built to dominate for years to come.

But it's still scary to look at the seven full seasons of Bauer's career, with two being dominant and five where his ERA was above 4.00.

Age might not be on his side

Bauer turned 30 years old in January and has a lot of innings on his arm, having tossed 1,190 in the majors since debuting in 2012.

Contrast the above with late-arriving deGrom, who had thrown only 680.2 innings entering his age-30 season due in part to a late transition from shortstop to pitcher and the fact that he didn't make his big league debut until he was 26 years old.

Bauer could potentially remain healthy and productive for the next decade, but he has a lot of mileage.

A potential money crunch

If the Mets sign Bauer, it will likely take them over the $210 million luxury threshold. At that point, there are two questions to ask.

The first is what it would mean for the rest of the offseason, with the Mets still in need of a starting center fielder and perhaps a third baseman. Would Bauer's signing be the last big one?

The second -- and more important -- is what signing Bauer would mean for the Mets futures of Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, and others. If signing Bauer would not preclude the Mets from also extending Conforto and Lindor, great. But if it does, there's a problem.

PROS

Potential dominance

If you believe that the 2020 version of Bauer is the one who can be expected for the next several seasons, signing him and slotting him behind deGrom in the rotation could mean the Mets having the best 1-2 punch in baseball.

As they were in 2015, the Mets would be a nightmare matchup for teams during the regular season and -- more importantly -- in the playoffs.

And being able to turn to deGrom and Bauer in a potential three-game series (if the playoffs are again expanded) would give the Mets an enormous advantage.

The market could stay sane

Bauer could receive a contract that pays him a huge average annual value -- perhaps upwards of $30 million. But in a market where there are only a few teams who seem comfortable paying Bauer, an interested team could pounce.

If Bauer can be had for three or four years, it would be a much easier pill to swallow for teams that might be understandably wary of paying a premium for his age-34 and beyond seasons.

Killer instinct

Bauer's big personality works both ways. While it can piss off some opposing players and perhaps lead to some headaches for the front office and public relations arms of a team, he has been generally well-liked by his teammates.

Bauer also has a competitive edge that does not seem contrived. And that's something that should be valued, not frowned upon.

VERDICT

Given the Mets' needs elsewhere and the potential that adding Bauer could hurt their chances of extending their own players, it's hard to be all-in here.

In a world where the Mets throw caution to the wind and money is no object when it comes to securing Conforto and Lindor long-term, sure, bring Bauer in. But even in that scenario, the risks are high and the long-term goal of sustainable success could be negatively impacted.