MLB roundtable: Trevor Bauer is the best free agent left on the market; where will he land?

The calendar has flipped to 2021 and spring training is (probably) only three short weeks away. Hopefully MLB and the MLBPA can put their differences aside and get spring training and the regular season started on time, though I fear I’m being optimistic.

Throughout the offseason my fellow CBS Sports MLB scribes and I will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we picked between the top free agent shortstops. This week we’re going to tackle the top unsigned free agent.

Where will Trevor Bauer sign and for how much?

R.J. Anderson: There’s a lot of smoke around the Mets right now — especially after their trade of Steven Matz — so I’ll give in to peer pressure and say them. I think it’ll be an AAV-over-total value deal, meaning that we’re probably looking at two years, $70-plus — or something like that.

Dayn Perry: Agree that most of the buzz surrounds the Mets right now, but I’ll say Dodgers on a one-year deal that doesn’t lock him in through the uncertainty surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I’ll wager that Bauer winds up setting the record for AAV and then winds up inking a long-term deal when he hits the market again next winter. 

Katherine Acquavella: Based on what we know right now, it does seem like the Mets and Angels are two of the top frontrunners, so I’ll say Bauer ends up with the Angels. An even bolder prediction, let’s say that L.A. gets Bauer on a long-term deal (maybe somewhere in the 4-6 year range) and passes Gerrit Cole’s record AAV of $36 million.

Matt Snyder: At this point, I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin with any kind of firm answer that isn’t just a guess. The lingering status of the pandemic affecting baseball operations means that it’s possible Bauer takes a one-year deal like he’s mentioned in the past. Many players wouldn’t want to bet on themselves like that if given a choice, but I believe Bauer would. That puts the Dodgers in play. The Mets remain an obvious fit. I do think the Angels make a lot of sense here for both parties, though, so I’ll go with them. Shot in the dark? Five years and $175 million. 

Mike Axisa: I’m going with the Angels. They need pitching (more accurately, they need a No. 1 starter) and I’m not sure another team is willing to beat them in a bidding war right now. Despite all the recent buzz, I think the Blue Jays and Mets took themselves out of the running with their recent activity, and the Yankees and Red Sox would surprise me given their slavish devotion to the luxury-tax threshold. I’ll go with the Angels, Bauer’s hometown team, and a five-year deal worth $36.1 million per season (beating Gerrit Cole’s $36 million average annual salary record) with opt outs after each year.

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