Mets should be relieved Trevor Bauer turned them down

David Peterson went on the injured list Friday, which made it about an ordinary day as you can find in Mets Land. If the 2021 Mets suffered injuries at a more rapid rate than currently, they’d be a disaster episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

On the bright side, at least they didn’t have to endure Major League Baseball placing a high-priced pitcher on administrative leave.

Yes, Friday’s Trevor Bauer news had to leave the Mets relieved that the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner turned down their three-year, $105-million offer, slightly more than the $102-million package he ultimately accepted from the Dodgers. Let’s hope that, in addition to relief, they felt regret for ignoring all of the red flags surrounding Bauer — red flags that made Friday’s development highly disturbing and not very surprising — and aggressively pursuing him. They dodged quite a bullet during a year in which they already had fired a general manager, Jared Porter, due to bad behavior toward women.

Bauer entered limbo, for now, due to allegations that he assaulted a woman at his Pasadena, Calif., home during a pair of sexual encounters; the woman, under the penalty of perjury, requested and received a temporary restraining order against Bauer. At worst, Bauer would appear to face jail time, and short of that, a lengthy suspension from MLB under its domestic-violence protocols. At best, even if the 30-year-old somehow isn’t criminally liable and avoids further MLB trouble, the situation reflects very poorly upon him and the Dodgers, who knew darn well of Bauer’s prior behavioral issues.

Trevor Bauer
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Before the Mets opened the Subway Series on Friday at Yankee Stadium, manager Luis Rojas discussed the key to his club staying afloat amid a blizzard of injuries: “I think we have a really good camaraderie in the clubhouse as a whole. We talk about the players and the challenge they can have looking around and seeing guys get hurt, seeing new faces. Just having those guys that show up to jump on the mindset right away. They’ve done great. … And it shows how good of a family we are.”

In light of that camaraderie, I asked Rojas to describe his level of relief that he need not worry about Bauer’s legal issues.

“You know what I’m happy for? That we signed Taijuan Walker. I’m really excited for that,” Rojas said. “He has the ball [Friday night]. And he’s been one of those guys that let us … have that camaraderie. He’s just an outstanding person. From the first time he set foot in our clubhouse, he made that impact. And that’s what I’m excited for. I cannot talk about what wasn’t done or not having a player.”

Nice pivot by Rojas, and an accurate one. The Mets signed Walker, a candidate to make the All-Star Game for the first time in his career, to a two-year, $20-million contract only after they whiffed on Bauer. If Walker hasn’t quite matched Bauer, who has pitched very well for the Dodgers, in on-field contributions, he has provided zero public headaches and seemed to integrate very well with his teammates, a quality which the human tornado Bauer very much lacks.

It would have been nowhere as easy for Rojas to dodge Bauer questions if he were his manager, and that goes triple for Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, who led the pursuit of Bauer despite having just dismissed Porter weeks earlier and being well aware of Bauer’s unsettling history. The other Mets players, too, would’ve faced questions about Bauer rather than enjoying celebrations of their toughness.

Not their problem, thankfully for them. It should be a major lesson, though, to heed obvious warnings and not rely on the old saw that extreme talent can neutralize extreme concerns.

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