The Mets’ interest in
Nightengale has since walked back the AAV portion of his report but further tweeted that a Mets source “confirmed” they’ve made a formal offer to Bauer (obviously, at a non-record-setting rate). Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the offer was formally put on the table “weeks ago,” so it obviously has not been strong enough to push Bauer toward a deal. That said, the first definitive indication of an offer being made to Bauer is of some note.
The current AAV record is held by Gerrit Cole, whose nine-year contract with the Yankees pays him an average of $36MM per year. There’s been plenty of speculation on the possibility of Bauer eclipsing that mark but on a shorter-term arrangement. MLBTR’s own Tim Dierkes took a look at whether Bauer and agent Rachel Luba would have a legitimate case for seeking such a deal earlier this winter, concluding that a record AAV offer would likely need to come in at four or fewer years in total length. That topic has proven quite polarizing, with many onlookers pointing to Cole’s superior track record and consistency. However, as Tim explored, teams are typically willing to pay substantial premiums in terms of AAV if it limits the overall length of a contract.
Bauer hasn’t closed the door on any contract structure since his free agency began. As recently as 2019, the right-hander insisted he’d only sign one-year contracts upon reaching the market, playing out his career in mercenary-esque, year-to-year fashion. He’s softened that stance this winter, as both he and Luba have voiced an openness to longer-term deals. The potential for opt-out provisions to be baked into any multi-year agreement could certainly impact negotiations as well.
Ultimately, there’s no way of knowing whether a short-term deal with a record annual rate would prove enticing enough for Bauer — if any team is even willing to make such an offer in the first place — or whether he’d prefer the security of a longer-term pact at a lower price point. The answer there is quite likely dependent on the team making the offer. Bauer has stressed on his YouTube channel that he’s seeking a “partnership” with a win-now team that will support his desire to grow his brand on social media and have an “honest” conversation about him pitching every fourth day. The Mets, Angels and Blue Jays have all been linked to Bauer in recent weeks, and other pitching-needy teams are surely at least keeping tabs on his market.