The Mets live in a world in which big personalities are welcome now. Same goes for controversial tweets and modern approaches to baseball. But, most of all, the Mets' new leadership has made it clear they’re not worried about money. Thanks to Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, the avant-garde Amazin’s are emphasizing the acquisition, not so much the cost.
That should check off all the boxes for free agent Trevor Bauer, the 2020 NL Cy Young award winner who’s looking for a new home this winter.
Sandy Alderson certainly got Bauer’s attention. He praised the right-hander’s unusual mark on the sport — like obsessing over pitching data and creating social-media frenzies on polarizing topics. Alderson even predicted Mets fans would love Bauer’s personality because if he can perform well, the Queens faithful would put his “baggage” aside.
“I heard Sandy’s comments and it was refreshing to hear him speak that way about me,” Bauer said Wednesday during his Cy Young presser. "In the past, a lot of the narrative surrounding me is I can’t handle a big market, a big media market. I was a headcase or whatever the case is. That’s kind of been the narrative.
“So to hear that someone as high-ranking as Sandy feels the way he feels about that is refreshing and good to hear him speak like that. I’m certainly appreciative of that.”
The Mets are no longer narrow-minded. Perhaps in years past, Alderson would have tentatively broached a hot topic like what he thinks of Bauer. But the team president, who is for now in charge of baseball operations until the Mets hire someone under Alderson, left nothing up for interpretation when he discussed the most popular free agent on the market.
“I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York. He’s the kind of guy that fans would embrace,” Alderson said Tuesday on WFAN. "This is an entertainment business. We’ve got to be open-minded about how players express themselves.
“The thing that’s interesting about Bauer is he brings along with him a lot of ideas, a lot of routines and sort of a technical orientation that I bet we can learn from.”
Alderson’s last remark here is noteworthy. Cohen expressed he has a lot to learn in the baseball world, which is why he chose Alderson to be the leader of his first-ever front office. Alderson has been in the industry for nearly four decades and even he admitted he can learn something from Bauer’s pitching approach. The Mets are emphasizing this desire to be broad-minded, and there are few players in the sport right now more progressive than Bauer.
He doesn’t really care whether people like him or not. Bauer does his own thing — like playing with a drone that sliced his pinky finger open before Game 3 of the 2016 ALCS, or placing electrodes on his temples to improve his brain performance. While the Mets try to erase their long-standing self portrait of a dinosaur holding a cellphone, Bauer’s far-out technological methods would make him an outlier on any team.
That’s OK with Alderson. He wants a 2021 rotation that features Jacob deGrom, Bauer, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, and perhaps even Seth Lugo. Talk about primetime TV.
“I also kind of zeroed in on one of the things he said, which is baseball is an entertainment business,” Bauer said Wednesday in response to Alderson’s comments. "We are an entertainment business. I think that’s a view that I share. It’s something that I’m passionate about.
“I certainly would like to move that initiative forward because I think that the players will be better for it when they start looking at it that way. … If you can maximize your time and buy into the entertainment side of things, there’s so much opportunity for players… and I think that the culture of baseball has slowly begun to shift in that direction.”
One thing is certain: the culture in Queens is unquestionably shifting. During a once-in-a-generation transformation, Bauer would fit the bill.