The free agency of Trevor Bauer has come down to the Dodgers and Mets.
A decision on his team for 2021, and perhaps beyond, could come as soon as Friday. Two National League contenders are the last pair standing.
Bauer’s free agency has been a rollercoaster. He has thrown himself into the circus of the whole performance, teasing on social media and generally being Trevor Bauer. His personality is what makes him the pitcher he is, but could have also been a concern for some front offices.
The Mets and Dodgers clearly have no such worries. They are pursuing Bauer even when he will command $40 million for the 2021 season alone.
New York has traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. Los Angeles has watched their division rivals strengthen, and do so to the point that the National League West may not be a walkover. The Mets came into this offseason with big expectations, though, and they are yet to deliver on the free agency front. George Springer and J.T. Realmuto went elsewhere despite Mets interest.
The National League is at its most competitive for years. Both the Dodgers and Mets can claim to be favorites to win their divisions, but the Braves and Padres have a case for that status, too. It would be foolish to sleep on St Louis after acquiring Arenado.
Bauer would change things completely for either team. Adding him to Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and David Price makes the Dodgers the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series. Put Bauer with Jacob deGrom, Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and a healthy Noah Syndergaard, and you have the best rotation in baseball.
Neither the Dodgers nor the Mets need Bauer. Both are World Series contenders without him. Both are in the National League’s top three or four teams regardless of where Bauer signs.
Adding Bauer to a roster already poised to compete, though, is such a huge step. Other rotations are lacking a thoroughbred ace – signing Bauer wouldn’t take them to such stratospheric levels. For the Mets and Dodgers, Bauer makes them a truly scary opponent.
The fact this has come down to two National League rivals, and arguably the best two teams in the NL, makes his decision even more impactful.