On the day that Trevor Bauer won the National League Cy Young Award, he and New York Mets president Sandy Alderson began throwing kisses at each other.
The Mets limped through 2020 with a patchwork pitching rotation that seemed ready to accept volunteers when the 60-game hybrid season came to a close.
Injuries drained the pitching staff and, with the exception of two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, the hurlers who weren’t hurt weren’t very good.
So of course, a free agent with Bauer’s credentials would be appealing to Alderson, now equipped with new owner Steve Cohen’s sizable bankroll to lure significant available players.
And for Bauer, New York would offer a big stage for his oversized personality and an opportunity to face off with old college teammate and rival Gerrit Cole, who now works for the Yankees. Bauer and Cole were not invited to the same cocktail parties when they were at UCLA.
Bauer has been described as a baseball iconoclast which, in some circles, translates to a loose cannon. Want some evidence? Well, he collects drones, which might be OK except that he sliced his finger while repairing one of them and needed 10 stitches right before a scheduled postseason start for Cleveland. His start was pushed back a day but he lasted just one inning because the stitches came apart. He then lost both his starts in the World Series against the Cubs.
Then there was the game in 2019 when he gave up seven runs to Kansas City. When manager Terry Francona came out to rescue him, Bauer threw the baseball from the mound over the centerfield fence. The Indians traded him shortly after that.
Bauer follows a unique training regimen that includes a 400-foot long toss and has experimented with 19 different pitches and features eight in his arsenal including three different sliders.
For some buttoned-down teams, struggling with limited resources after the pandemic eliminated a considerable amount of income that might be spent on free agents, all of that might be a bit much. Not Alderson, who claims to be “open-minded’’ about players whom others might describe as quirky.
One team’s quirky might be another’s perfect fit especially if Mr. Quirky comes equipped with tat fancy Cy Young hardware and a 1.73 earned run average that led the league.
And into that environment arrived the Mets with Cohen’s bankroll and Alderson’s interest. It could be a match made in baseball heaven.
Photo: Iconn Sportswire