Where the Mets really stand with Trevor Bauer

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In their attempt to build a championship-caliber rotation, the Mets await an answer from Trevor Bauer.

The Mets’ interest in last year’s National League Cy Young award winner is substantial — Bauer received an offer from the team “weeks ago,” according to an industry source — but will it be enough to secure the right-hander, who sits atop the free-agent pitching market?

Bauer is the last of the big three free agents remaining this winter, after J.T. Realmuto on Tuesday returned to the Phillies on a five-year contract worth $115.5 million. Last week, George Springer signed a six-year contract worth $150 million with the Blue Jays.

A report Tuesday that Bauer had received a record-setting offer from the Mets, in terms of annual average value, was debunked. But the likelihood remains strong that Bauer received an offer that will pay him north of $30 million for at least four years, with opt outs embedded in the contract.

Gerrit Cole received a $324 million contract from the Yankees before last season with a record AAV of $36 million. Stephen Strasburg is next among pitchers with his contract having an AAV of $35 million. Bauer and Cole were teammates at UCLA, where they developed a rivalry, but had frosty interactions, according to a person with knowledge of their relationship.

Bauer has also been linked to the Blue Jays, Angels and Dodgers. There is a belief within the industry that if the offers are comparable, Bauer will choose the Mets because of his desire to play in the biggest market possible, with an eye toward building a brand and fame that transcends baseball.

If the Mets were to sign the 30-year-old Bauer, their rotation would vault to among the game’s best. As it stands, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Marcus Stroman are set for the rotation, with lefties David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi and Steven Matz among the back-end possibilities. Seth Lugo, who is perhaps better suited for the bullpen, is another rotation option. Noah Syndergaard could be a June addition, as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.

Whether Bauer’s personality fits the Mets is another matter, especially following general manager Jared Porter’s firing last week for sending unwanted, inappropriate text messages to a female journalist in 2016 when he worked for the Cubs.

Bauer harassed a female college student on Twitter two years ago and later apologized. Bauer’s responses to the woman included digging up a photo from her timeline of her drinking before her 21st birthday, subjecting her to ridicule by his 414,000 followers. Over a span of three days, Bauer tweeted 17 times at the woman or at others while discussing her and their disagreement. Bauer also bullied a female reporter on Twitter, prompting backlash toward the woman from his followers.

“I have been made aware that some of the interactions related to a specific Twitter exchange may have had a negative impact,” Bauer said in a recent statement. “That was not my intention. I will wield the responsibility of my public platform more responsibly in the future.”

Bauer dethroned the two-time defending NL Cy Young award winner deGrom last season by going 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts for the Reds. He began his career with Cleveland, pitching in a rotation that included Corey Kluber and Carrasco.

If the Mets sign Bauer without deducting payroll, they would surpass the luxury-tax threshold of $210 million. The Mets, who have been among baseball’s most active teams this winter, still have a vacancy in center field to fill and could look toward free-agent Jackie Bradley Jr.

In addition to acquiring Carrasco and Francisco Lindor in a trade with Cleveland, the Mets have signed Trevor May and James McCann, after Stroman accepted a qualifying offer worth $18.9 million.

— Additional reporting by Joel Sherman

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