Coveted free agent Trevor Bauer, who doesn’t seem to be in any rush to make a decision on where he’ll be playing next season, posted a video to his YouTube channel Saturday night, counting down the top five pitches he’s received from fan bases this offseason. The 29-year-old based his criteria on creativity, volume and consistency, rating each team on a scale of one to 10. The five fan bases that have most impressed Bauer so far are the Yankees, Giants, Padres, Mets and Angels.
While the Yankees appear more focused on retaining their own free agents—namely batting champ DJ LeMahieu and right-handed hurler Masahiro Tanaka—than building outside the organization, the prospect of Bauer donning pinstripes is an intriguing hypothetical. One potential hurdle to that happening is the presence of Gerrit Cole, Bauer’s former college teammate with whom he had an intense—some might even say bitter—rivalry during their time at UCLA. Because of their past animosity, whenever Cole and Bauer have gone head-to-head—2019 was the most recent occurrence—it’s been appointment viewing, usually preceded by days of buildup.
The case for Bauer joining the Yankees is simple. They’re a globally-recognized brand playing in the nation’s biggest media market and a near lock for October baseball, not to mention their illustrious history (27 titles) and penchant for shelling out enormous contracts. But would the outspoken Bauer be able to put aside his beef with Cole for the good of the team? To that, Bauer’s response would be, what beef?
“[Fans] seem to think that they have to sell me getting along with Cole and the media market not being too bad, and that’s just a fake news story,” said Bauer, downplaying his rift with Cole. “I get along fine with my teammates. I don’t have any problem with Gerrit at all. I’ve said that multiple times, but the media just likes to run with it.”
Bauer’s assertion that his past differences with Cole have been blown out of proportion is certainly plausible. The mainstream media has perpetuated false narratives before and unless controversy stops selling, it will probably keep happening. Even if Bauer and Cole hated each other’s guts at UCLA, that doesn’t necessarily mean either of them feel that way now, almost a decade later. People and circumstances change. For instance, AL East rivals David Price and David Ortiz feuded for years before Price joined the Red Sox as a free agent in 2016. Somehow, they managed to share a locker room without ripping each other's heads off.
Pairing Cole with Bauer would be a fascinating dynamic, though from the looks of it, the reigning NL Cy Young winner is far more likely to sign with New York’s other team, the newly relevant Mets, who are already making their presence felt under motivated owner Steve Cohen.