The Mets and Steve Cohen, in theory, have the wherewithal to erase and harvest the top of the free agents’ board. But maybe there’s a better approach.
The Mets and their fans have every reason and right to be giddy about the transfer of ownership from the dysfunctional and penny-pinching Wilpons to the free-wheeling and deep-pocketed Steve Cohen.
Following two decades with a mere three appearances in the playoffs, there is bound to be an anxiousness for the Mets to make up for all that wasted time in one swift and impactful offseason that leaves their competitors in the dust.
All barriers and financial constraints have been eliminated, and the Mets are free to indulge themselves in dispensing an unlimited amount of cash to sign free-agents like J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, DJ LeMahieu, and George Springer in one fell swoop.
The number of teams in the hunt for these and other players is wilted by the huge losses sustained in revenue by all teams, including the Mets, during the COVID influenced shortened 2020 season.
Even a team like the Yankees, a franchise listed by Forbes with a re-sale value of $5 billion (the Mets went for $2.4 billion), has signaled a need to remain under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, a goal they’ve already exceeded.
Mets: The Popular And Expected Strategy
The question I am posing is this. Assuming you or I can buy a Cadillac today with cash, is that the best path to take when the toilet isn’t flushing and college tuition for our oldest daughter is due in two weeks?
As a metaphor, this is the situation facing Steve Cohen and the Mets as they remake both a neglected franchise and a hungry fan base?
The Mets do not have a major league catcher or center fielder, and they are short in completing a five-person starting rotation.
Respectively, Realmuto, Springer, Bauer, and possibly Marcus Stroman, to whom the Mets extended a qualifying offer worth $18.9 million for 2021, fit the bill as attractive, though very expensive, candidates to fill out the Mets roster.
The Mets currently have $68 million “to spare” before reaching the luxury tax threshold for 2021. Again, in theory, who cares if they exceed that limit, which they will surely do if they pursue each of the above players? The money is there – so the hell with it?
Mets: An Alternate Long-Range Strategy
Before going all-in as the prevailing thinking seems to be, consider the following:
According to the New York Times, Cohen needed 23 other owners to vote in favor. Two people familiar with the vote, who spoke on condition of anonymity because M.L.B. did not disclose the tally, said the total was 26-4.
This means there are four dissatisfied owners out there who are chomping at the bit to pounce on a discredited, though never convicted, hedge fund operator – stamping him as the next coming of George Steinbrenner and the beginning of a Mets Evil Empire.
Few may care, but thinking long-range it might be better to get off on a different foot.
**** The Mets farm system needs immediate attention. The team’s last “Met Of The Future,” Amed Rosario, shows up with the big club needing fundamental repairs and instructions on how to steal a base and make the pivot on a double play – is not acceptable.
Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson are both committed to making an effort, but to do so requires not only money but also the full resources of the Mets coaching and scouting staff that initiates the beginning of making a Mets “brand” or culture that has been lacking for too long.
**** Steve Cohen has already identified the need to beef up the Mets analytics department. Cohen believes in numbers, and his interpretation and respect for raw data are what propelled him to his billionaire status.
Again, this is a goal for the future and something that doesn’t happen as quickly as George Springer leading off for the Mets on Opening Day 2021.
**** And finally, if you think the Class Of 2021 is something to behold, wait till you see the Class Of 2022.
There’s even an opportunity to make up for past mistakes via a reuniting with Travis d”Arnaud, who found himself excelling in a different uniform after the Mets let him go.
Mets: Slow Down – It’s All Looking Good
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there’s no reason the Mets need to try the impossible during this offseason. They could, and they might go for it.
But everything for the Mets (finally) points upward. The 2020 team was the best in the league offensively, and that was without a Pete Alonso struggling to recreate a replica of an outrageously impossible 2019 season.
No team except the Mets in the NL East is prepared to spend this offseason wildly. S
Steve Cohen can obliterate the competition at will. So did George Steinbrenner and look where it got him, still looking in from the outside and seeking election to the Hall Of Fame.
Marcus Stroman and Masahiro Tanaka both are a good fit for the Mets from the upper tier of free-agent starters. Mike Minor can provide innings, and someone like Corey Kluber, a former Cy Young winner, has that competitive spirit and motivation the Mets need.
In any event, the Mets are secure in knowing there is a tomorrow as well as today. Steve Cohen changes everything, and Mets fans should be grateful in knowing he is committed to fixing the organization as a whole, and not just by the glitz of sexy players who take the field.
Slow down; there’s only a bright future for the Mets. Select the pieces carefully and with due diligence.
With Steve Cohen on board, the pressure is off, and moves of desperation (think Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla, etc.) are no longer required fodder to feed the back pages of New York newspapers during an offseason.
Finally, the Mets have a future. Slow, steady, cumulative progress that builds the entire organization is the smart strategy – let’s keep it that way.