It’s a good time to be Trevor Bauer right now.
The soon-to-be 30-year-old right-hander is on the cusp of winning the National League Cy Young Awad after posting a 1.73 ERA, 0.795 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts while entering this offseason as the most coveted pitcher available on the free-agent market.
That puts him in line for a handsome payday from a line of suitors that could potentially span from New York to Los Angeles where — contrary to his initial desire to just sign a one-year deal — he could be looking for a long-year deal.
“He’s looking to be fairly compensated for a (soon-to-be) 30-year-old going into free agency coming off of, hopefully, a Cy Young win,” Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, told John Jastremski on WFAN Wednesday night.
It was previously reported by SNY’s John Harper that Bauer could get Stephen Strasburg money — the Washington Nationals ace and 2019 World Series MVP working under a seven-year, $245 million deal.
Just by going off the 2020 campaign he put together with the Cincinnati Reds, that’s understandable. But there are natural concerns when it comes to doling out that kind of money for a pitcher of his track record.
He’s been largely inconsistent, posting an ERA of 4.00 or more in five of his previous six full MLB seasons, including a 4.48 showing in 2019 with the Cleveland Indians and Reds.
Bauer also comes with the reputation of being outspoken and at times, demonstrative, which has put him in the spotlight for reasons other than his performances on the mound.
It’s one thing to do it in Cleveland or Cincinnati, but it’s something completely different to do that in New York where the media is unforgiving and the fan base won’t wait long to turn on a struggling player.
For a player who has not spent extended time playing in a big-time market, there doesn’t seem to be any trepidations about performing in one, at least according to Luba.
Granted, she didn’t refer to future success from the pitcher’s mound.
“He’s a fan of big markets, in terms of building his brand. I think he’s made it very clear and he’s good at it,” Luba said. “He’s good at finding ways to build a brand. He built a pretty incredible brand, especially over, I think, the last year, after being in … an entirely Ohio market. So, if you can build the brand that he has in an Ohio market, imagine what he can do in a bigger market.”
The brand Luba refers to is the pitcher’s website, Bauer Outage, which includes merchandise, shows, and baseball tips.
Another thing working against Bauer’s potential pursuit of Strasburg money is the current state of the market. The coronavirus pandemic has hit Major League Baseball and its teams as the shedding of salary has quickly become commonplace instead of adding it.
There is one team, however, that isn’t transmitting that message to Luba.
“I would say that the only team that doesn’t seem to have that, or that doesn’t seem to be voicing that stance is the Mets with the new owner,” she said.
The approaching arrival of Steve Cohen and his estimated net worth of $14.6 billion certainly gives the Mets the means to extend a big offer to Bauer. It would also fill an important need of top-tier pitching depth behind Jacob deGrom.
But Bauer’s reputation could cause hesitation, at least that is the message one source told amNewYork Metro earlier this month.
“For a headache? Forget that.”
That doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of the Mets’ highest decision-makers, but it does provide some insight as to how discussions regarding a pursuit of Bauer may go in Queens.