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Trevor Bauer decision expected as soon as Friday

The Reds' Trevor Bauer winds up during the

The Reds' Trevor Bauer winds up during the first inning of a game against the Brewers in Cincinnati on Sept. 23, 2020.  Credit: AP/Aaron Doster

The Trevor Bauer sweepstakes appears to be close to ending, and if a new wave of buzz Thursday is to be believed, he has narrowed his choices down to the Mets and Dodgers — with an answer potentially coming as soon as Friday.

Amid a series of reports referencing the Mets and Bauer actively negotiating a contract, Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, wrote in a tweet, "Down to 2."

She did not get more specific. Bauer retweeted her message to his more than 400,000 followers. Such behavior is normal for Bauer and Luba, who believe in using social media to grow their audience and personal brands. This offseason, they have used the online platforms to comment on Bauer’s free agency, sometimes attempting to discredit the reporting surrounding it.

Neither Bauer nor Luba shot down or otherwise chimed in on the Thursday reports, which pegged the Mets and Dodgers as finalists for the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner and the best pitcher available via free agency this offseason.

Luba said last month, also on Twitter, that Bauer is "considering a number of different types of contract structures." Multiple reports Thursday pegged the Mets’ offer at three years and more than $30 million per year, with an opt-out clause after 2021 — which would afford Bauer the opportunity to play the free-agency game again next winter if he wants to.

Bauer, a 30-year-old righthander, had the best year of his career during the abbreviated 2020 season, leading the NL with a 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, helping the Reds to the playoffs. Since establishing himself as a full-time big-leaguer with Cleveland in 2014, he has a 3.85 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.

The Mets have spoken with and about Bauer periodically since the start of the offseason, including in November, when team president Sandy Alderson said he thought "Bauer would be a great personality in New York."

"He’s the kind of guy that fans would embrace," Alderson said. "This is an entertainment business. We’ve got to be open-minded about how players express themselves."

That week, Bauer responded: "We are an entertainment business. That’s a view that I share, that’s something that I’m passionate about. I certainly would like to move that initiative forward, because I think the players will be better for it when they start looking at it that way."

With less than two weeks to go until spring training — Mets pitchers and catchers report to Port St. Lucie by Feb. 17 — the Mets have yet to add a premier free agent (though shortstop Francisco Lindor, acquired via trade, qualifies as that sort of high-profile addition). Bauer is the last of a bunch that included catcher J.T. Realmuto (Phillies), centerfielder George Springer (Blue Jays) and infielder DJ LeMahieu (Yankees).

The Mets’ rotation is not a pressing need, though there is room for Bauer. His addition would give the Mets a legitimate claim to the best rotation in baseball.

If Bauer came to Queens, he would join Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Marcus Stroman as locks for the starting five, with lefthander David Peterson — off a strong rookie season in 2020 — seeming like a safe bet for the last spot. That would leave Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Sean Reid-Foley and others as depth options, as well as send Seth Lugo back to the bullpen.

Noah Syndergaard, who had Tommy John surgery in March, is expected to return in June.

Stroman seemed to like the idea of him and Bauer being in the same rotation. When someone mentioned the possibility to him on Twitter, Stroman replied, "Elite trash talking and taunting coming soon. Lol."

The Dodgers, winners of the 2020 World Series, regularly boast one of the biggest payrolls in baseball and consistently are threats for top free agents. Bauer is from the area — he was born in North Hollywood, went to high school in Santa Clarita and played for UCLA — so joining Los Angeles would mark a homecoming.

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