Maybe it makes me old-school to think Trevor Bauer and his agent, Rachel Luba, could have handled Friday’s snub of the Mets with a smidge more diplomacy.
The online trolling. The bait-and-switch merchandise on Bauer’s personal website. The hijacking of "LFGM" (the sacrosanct hashtag of Mets fans) as part of the duo’s masterful West Coast scheme — that was just cold-blooded.
Whatever happened to getting everything you dreamed of, expressing gratitude to the other team for their time and effort, then moving on?
But that’s just me.
Bauer and Luba merely did what they entered this offseason to do: get a ton of money from the place he wanted to play. It’s now impossible to argue that place wasn’t the Dodgers all along — and the numbers are staggering.
The Dodgers reportedly handed Bauer a three-year contract worth $102 million that includes opt-outs after each of the first two years, with a $40 million salary this season and $45 million the next.
Regardless of how the Mets feel about Luba’s methods — and they firmly believed Bauer was coming to Flushing before Friday’s surprise ending — you can’t argue with the final result. Bauer, a SoCal kid who went to UCLA, is now a member of his hometown Dodgers, the defending world champs.
And how’s this for an LA Story? Bauer will make more (in salary) than LeBron James, who is being paid $39.2 million and $41.2 million by the Lakers over the same two years. Stunning, really.
Friday was a pretty good day for the Bauer camp. But then Luba had to leave tire tracks on the discarded Mets fan base during her victory lap with a tweet saying, "Y’all will hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for all the great memes and photoshops. You can hate us but we still love you."
I left out the blue-and-orange hearts, but you get the idea.
Bauer was a bit more restrained on Twitter, other than linking to his Big Reveal video on YouTube. Have to say that was well-produced, with the personal clips from his youth baseball days and a few off-the-field outtakes, then finishing with him in a Dodgers uniform.
"This season is about making sure history remembers us as we wish to be remembered," Bauer said. "This season is about adding to our legacy. And I can’t wait, Dodger fans."
Ouch. It was an especially painful knife twist for the Flushing faithful, who had been reading reports that Bauer had agreed on a deal with the Mets. But the wait continued into Friday afternoon, and Bauer’s decision wasn’t official until he posted that video on YouTube at 2:53 p.m.
To think the Mets reportedly offered Bauer nearly $80 million over those first two years themselves, also with reported opt-outs, with a third year that got him beyond $100 million, and they still couldn’t convince him to come to Queens. If Bauer truly straight-leveraged the Mets into his preferred landing spot with the Dodgers — and it certainly appears that way — you can’t fault Steve Cohen or Sandy Alderson or Zack Scott for what happened. They put together a historic pitch for Bauer and he turned down their money (while grabbing a few extra million from L.A.).
Shortly after Cohen purchased the Mets, becoming the sport’s wealthiest owner with an estimated $14 billion fortune, I mentioned that even with his Everest-size mountains of cash, Alderson had to get free agents to take it. But this winter, the Mets wound up with none of the Big Four as Bauer, J.T. Realmuto (Phillies), George Springer (Blue Jays) and DJ LeMahieu (Yankees) all wound up elsewhere.
In Bauer’s case, it’s not a terrible miss. The Mets already had put together a very good winter (total investment: $112M) with the acquisitions of Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann, Trevor May, Aaron Loup and the return of Marcus Stroman on an $18.9 million qualifying offer. The rotation is not desperate for Bauer, especially at $40 million, and the Mets are back to having another $25 million or so to play with under the luxury-tax threshold, if they choose to remain beneath it.
Also, Bauer takes his social-media baggage with him to L.A. and the Mets don’t have to sweat his history of Twitter bullying and harassment of women, something that made the timing of this potential deal feel a bit tone-deaf for the franchise. Bringing in Bauer wasn’t a great look after having to address the high-profile scandals involving Mickey Callaway and Jared Porter, two former employees accused of inappropriate behavior toward female media members.
Would Bauer have kept his social-media activity turned down to a more palatable volume in New York? Possibly. But it’s a moot point. Bauer is a Dodger, and it doesn’t seem as if the Mets could have done anything to stop that from happening.