As the MLB hot stove begins to heat up, there is little doubt that Trevor Bauer is the best pitcher on the free-agent market this winter.
While there is an abundance of starters on the market, nobody comes close to being at Bauer’s level. In 11 starts this past season, Bauer posted a 1.73 ERA, making him the easy pick for the Cy Young winner in the National League.
Even if he doesn’t quite match the contract Gerrit Cole got last winter, Bauer has set himself up for a massive payday. At the moment, there is no shortage of suitors that are hoping to secure Bauer’s services.
With that in mind, we thought it’d be worthwhile to check out the top candidates and each team’s odds of signing Bauer this offseason.
New York Mets: 20%
Just a few months ago, even the most optimistic of Mets fans wouldn’t have believed it, but New York might be Bauer’s most likely landing spot at this point.
Like a lot of free agents, Bauer has noticed that new Mets owner Steve Cohen is ready to spend money. The most recent reports coming out Queens indicate that Bauer and George Springer are the team’s top targets right now. There’s also been a lot of talk about how Bauer would be a good fit for the New York market. He would certainly fit on the Mets, who don’t have much rotation depth outside of Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.
The idea of having deGrom and Bauer, who have combined for the last three Cy Young Awards in the NL, would be pleasant but unfamiliar music to the ear of Mets fans, and it’s not that far-fetched.
Los Angeles Angels: 15%
One thing to keep in mind with Bauer is that he’s from Southern California and played his college baseball at UCLA. He hasn't said that he wants to return home, but it’s not exactly a stretch to think that could play a role in his free agency.
Given the pandemic, more players may prefer to be closer to their hometown and family. Location aside, the Angels appear ready to spend once again after giving Anthony Rendon a big contract last winter. More importantly, Bauer would fill a need the Angels have struggled to address for years.
The Halos have been hurt time and time again by injuries to their starting rotation mixed with a few disappointing performances. They need Bauer more than just about any other team and with Albert Pujols entering the final year of his contract, there will be money coming off the books soon, which means the Angels could find a way to make it work with Bauer financially.
Los Angeles Dodgers: 15%
If you’re thinking that the reigning World Series champs don’t need to add Bauer to a rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and countless young and promising arms, you’re absolutely right. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to go after them.
One championship will not be enough for the team’s ownership; they want to win multiple titles. And the Dodgers will pay whatever price they have to in order to make that happen.
Like the Angels, the Dodgers have their location working in their favor. Bauer will also look at the Dodgers as a place where he can compete for a ring in 2021 and beyond, which could end up being a big factor in his decision.
San Diego Padres: 10%
Word on the street is that the Padres have let Bauer’s representatives know that they wish to be kept in the loop. That should put the Padres firmly in the mix for his services.
As another Southern California franchise that went to the playoffs in 2020, San Diego will be an attractive destination for Bauer. With Bauer’s former Cleveland teammate Mike Clevinger missing the 2021 season, San Diego needs an ace. Clevinger could also convince Bauer to join forces with him once again in 2022, which would undoubtedly make the Padres a serious contender.
However, money could be an issue for the Padres, who have paid a lot for the likes of Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado in recent years. But if they can move some money around, perhaps by trading Wil Myers, the Padres could find a way to make it worth financially.
New York Yankees: 10%
Despite breaking the bank to sign Gerrit Cole last offseason, the Yankees are going to be interested in Bauer. Typically, money isn’t an issue for the Bronx Bombers, which puts them in the mix.
Outside of Cole, the Yankees aren’t sure what their rotation is going to look like in 2021, which means they’re likely to sign multiple starters this offseason. Most believe that Bauer’s personality would play well in New York. Plus, the Yankees are one of those teams that Bauer likely views as a championship contender next year and beyond.
Shockingly, the Mets are more likely than the Yankees to land a massive free agent at this point. However, you never count out the Yankees for a free agent like Bauer.
Toronto Blue Jays: 10%
The Blue Jays are one team that Bauer has teased on Twitter as being a potential landing spot. Traditionally, Toronto hasn’t given out a lot of contracts that are anywhere near as valuable as the one Bauer is likely to get. However, the reports coming out of the Great White North suggest that the Blue Jays will be aggressive in free agency.
The club has an incredible young core of position players who won’t start to make a lot of money for a few more years. That could put them in a position to give Bauer a front-loaded contract that’s competitive with the New York and Los Angeles teams. The only issue is that spending big on Bauer could limit Toronto’s ability to sign other free agents, which is less of a problem with some other squads.
Cincinnati Reds: 5%
On the surface, Bauer staying in Cincinnati seems unlikely. But you can never count out a player’s most-recent team because of the familiarity that exists.
There were reports in November that Bauer and the Reds had some semblance of contract talks. The Reds have already traded Raisel Iglesias and could do the same with Sonny Gray, potentially freeing up enough money to make a run at re-signing Bauer.
Atlanta Braves: 5%
With the way that their young starters came alive in the postseason, the Braves don’t have a huge need for Bauer. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t want him leading an otherwise young rotation.
For a team that was painfully close to knocking off the Dodgers in the NLCS, Atlanta may view Bauer as the player who can put them over the top. But the Braves have been reluctant to give out long-term contracts, so Bauer ending up in Atlanta only makes sense on a short-term contract. Of course, he’s suggested in the past that he might accept a one-year deal despite later backing off on that statement.
San Francisco Giants: 5%
The Giants are not an obvious destination for Bauer, but they’re worth watching as his market develops. Going to San Francisco would at least send him back to California, which he might prefer over an East Coast team.
It also appears that the Giants have money to blow this winter, so they could surprise people by jumping into the Bauer sweepstakes head-first and becoming a serious contender.
The Field: 5%
It’s still too early in the offseason to completely rule out any options for Bauer. Well, small-market teams that are rebuilding like the Pirates, Royals and some others probably won’t be making many calls to Bauer’s representatives. However, teams like the Nationals, Phillies, Red Sox, White Sox and Twins have all been connected to Bauer in some small way this offseason.
It’s far from impossible for one of those teams to come out of the woodwork and make a serious effort to sign Bauer.
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