Why Mets could be better off without Trevor Bauer -- and how they should pivot

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Danny Abriano
·4 min read
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Kris Bryant, Trevor Bauer, and Jackie Bradley Jr. TREATED ART
Kris Bryant, Trevor Bauer, and Jackie Bradley Jr. TREATED ART

Over 24 hours spanning Thursday and Friday, visions of Jacob deGrom and Trevor Bauer atop the Mets' rotation turned to the sight of Bauer spurning the Mets for the Los Angeles Dodgers after (intentionally or not) Bauer's website briefly became a hub for Bauer/Mets merchandise.

The Bauer sweepstakes were a dizzying whirlwind, especially over the last week. But the end result and disappointment many Mets fans are feeling should not cloud the fact that the Mets could be better off in the long run.

That does not mean the Dodgers adding Bauer won't potentially create a big impediment for the Mets and any other National League team with visions of making it to the World Series in 2021 and 2022.

If Bauer is the 2020 or 2018 version of himself -- and not the version who had an ERA over 4.00 in every other full season of his career -- the Dodgers will be scary.

But the Mets missing on Bauer is far from the end of the world. And if is very much not an indictment of Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson.

Lots of the talk from fans on Twitter in the wake of Bauer choosing the Dodgers was about how the Mets (who reportedly offered Bauer more money than the Dodgers) didn't sign any of the big free agents this offseason.

While true, it's a very flawed argument to make.

First of all, it was never expected that the Mets would sign more than one of the big free agents -- a list that included Bauer, George Springer, and J.T. Realmuto.

Instead, the thought was that they would probably sign one of them but would not go nuts spending, which is something Cohen himself said when he explained the Mets would likely not throw money around like "drunken sailors."

Second, while grabbing free agents and flexing financial might is all well and good, the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco earlier this offseason and could extend Lindor on a deal that is worth roughly $300 million.

Francisco Lindor. Remember him? He's a 27-year-old superstar who is one of the best two-way players in baseball. He's a Met now.

In addition to Lindor and Carrasco, James McCann and Trevor May have also been added. And there is absolutely no way that the Mets -- whose payroll is now roughly $180 million -- are done adding to the roster this offseason.

As noted above, the Bauer acquisition would've been exciting. It would've given the Mets the best rotation in baseball. But it also would've vaulted them past the luxury tax threshold and -- like it or not -- would've almost certainly resulted in them being on a much tighter budget in 2021 and beyond.

There is always a chance Cohen would've thrown all caution to the wind and blown past every luxury tax penalty level for years to come. But nothing he has said since taking over as owner should lead anyone to draw that conclusion.

Instead, the Mets might have been done adding this offseason had they signed Bauer. That could've meant going into the season without having addressed center field and third base.

The addition of Bauer might have also prevented the Mets from extending both Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto, two players whose futures in Queens over the next seven or eight years matter a lot more than Bauer would have over the next two.

And if Bauer had signed with the Mets, it stands to reason that Noah Syndergaard's career in Queens would've ended after this season. It is at this point that we'll note that Syndergaard has had the better career than Bauer and is arguably the better long-term bet.

None of this is to take anything away from Bauer's potential or to deny how fun it could've been to watch him take the mound after deGrom every five days.

But with Bauer in Los Angeles instead, the Mets will now pivot.

New York can fill multiple needs for the 2021 season via trade and/or free agency, focus on extending Lindor and Conforto, and be better positioned to add to their payroll during the season and entering 2022.

A nice finish to the offseason could be signing Jackie Bradley Jr. to play center field and adding James Paxton to the rotation.

A flashier one would be signing Bradley and trading for Kris Bryant.

Or the Mets can turn to the Cincinnati Reds and try to kill two birds with one stone by trading for Sonny Gray and Eugenio Suarez.

The point here isn't to deny Bauer's immense talent and the impact he might have made in Queens.

But when it comes to what Bauer would've cost the Mets and how the roster might have shaken out now and in the future if Bauer had signed, a very easy case can be made that the Mets are better off without him.