With clubs across Major League Baseball set to report for spring training in February, the free-agent sweepstakes for ace hurler Trevor Bauer may be nearing a conclusion.
So, we thought we'd break down his remaining suitors and offer a fresh prediction for his contract.
There seems to be a final four in the race for Bauer. We've ranked these clubs based on how much sense a deal would make for both the team and the man himself, who's fresh off winning the National League Cy Young Award in 2020 on the strength of an NL-best 1.73 ERA.
But before we get to that, we must consider what the 30-year-old is looking for in free agency.
What Bauer Wants
Few (if any) players in MLB have more to say than Bauer, so it's little wonder that he's offered an unusually transparent window into his free agency.
For instance, Bauer recently posted a video to YouTube in which he broke down exactly what matters to him as he seeks a new home after he spent his first nine seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland and the Cincinnati Reds. The key takeaways include:
Regarding compensation, Bauer shot down a report that he's seeking a five- or six-year deal for between $36 and $40 million per year. Yet it's hard to imagine him settling for much less, as the general consensus—see MLB Trade Rumors and MLB Network's Jon Heyman—is that he's worth at least $30 million per year.
Neither geography nor market size is especially important to him
He wants a "partnership" with the team, specifically regarding his training methods and brand-building ventures
He wants his new team to at least be willing to consider using him every fourth day, in lieu of every fifth day
He wants to be happy
He wants to win
He wants to be fairly compensated
4. New York Mets
In November, Bauer expressed admiration for how Steve Cohen had begun his reign as the owner of the New York Mets. Now the club has an offer out to him, according to Andy Martino of SNY.
After retaining Marcus Stroman and adding Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann and Trevor May, the Mets are projected by FanGraphs to produce the third-most WAR of any NL team in 2021.
They would only get stronger if they added Bauer, who would pair with two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom atop the club's rotation. And while market size may not be a priority, playing in New York wouldn't exactly hinder his efforts to build his brand.
But with their luxury-tax payroll projected at $183.8 million for 2021, the Mets are less than $30 million away from running afoul of the $210 million threshold for penalties. Cohen has expressed reluctance about that, so it's fair to wonder if his offer (which is reportedly weeks old) is of the low-ball variety.