The Mets, with ten days to the deadline, find themselves with more needs than money before the luxury tax kicks in—no choice but to go over.
Mets injuries have forced the hand of Steve Cohen. He can no longer be credible with his coyness about exceeding the payroll limits.
Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t, no longer works as a strategy for the Mets at the July 30 Trade Deadline.
While not serious, Jacob deGrom‘s forearm injury requires an indefinite timeout from throwing 101mph four-seamers, and Francisco Lindor‘s return from an oblique injury is measured not in days but weeks.
For insurance, Jose Iglesias (31), currently with the Angels, might be looked to as inexpensive but offense-minded and productive rental. Iglesias can be added for about $1.2 million to finish out the season with the Mets.
There is no replacement for deGrom, but there is still a glaring need for a proven major league right-handed starter, and preferably two, given the Mets need to start Robert Stock against Cincinnati, pretty much as a last resort, and wouldn’t you know it ,he left in the first inning with a hamstring injury.
I’m not going anywhere near naming names as to who the Mets are or should be interested in, but to get what they need as a first-place team in danger of losing that spot, the dollars will need to pour from Cohen’s pockets.
Without getting into incidental Mets needs, the other glaring one is at third base. The Mets like the bat of J.D. Davis, but he is a much better outfielder.
This opens up the real chance Davis will be extended by the Mets as trade bait – but not before they can consummate a deal for Kris Bryant.
Kris Bryant: The Mets White Whale
Bryant is clearly the Mets White Whale at the deadline. This year, Bryant has played four positions for the Cubs while making the All-Star team, hands down a pro’s-pro.
However, Bryant and those two pitchers-to-be-named late bring us to the team’s payroll, and the genuine possibility they can not avoid hitting the luxury tax this year.
Heres’ a snapshot of where the Mets team payroll stands today, provided by Spotrac.
Mets: There’s A Cushion, But It’s Not Soft Enough
, Kris Bryant’s final year of his contract with the Chicago Cubs earns him $19,500,000 (call it $20 million). With close to 3/5 of the season gone, this means the Mets will be liable for around $8 million of his remaining salary.
Another glance at the above table quickly reveals that Bryant eats most or all of the cake’s last piece.
Considering that while the Mets, who are in an ultra-competitive division with no guarantee they’ll be in the same position in 2022, is the team (i.e., Cohen) most likely saying it’s boom or bust now – let’s hold our cards for the offseason and the Class of 2022 Free Agents, that will, among others, include Kris Bryant?
Virtually assured, Mets fans, after suffering through years of dysfunction and financial troubles under the Wilpon regime, expect an entirely different strategy from multi-billionaire Steve Cohen.
Nevertheless, Cohen hasn’t amassed those billions not without listening first to his closest advisors, processing their recommendations, before he alone makes the final call.
Mets: It’s Scott And Alderson’s Serve
In effect, then, this throws the ball straight back in the court of Acting GM Zack Scott and Sandy Alderson players to the attention of Cohen, who can make a difference for the Mets.
Without getting ridiculous (let’s get Giancarlo Stanton), their arguments must be baseball-oriented and relayed in baseball language that is easily understood by an owner who is still (and he admits this) learning.
The good news for the Mets as a first-time offender is that The 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement requires clubs to pay a 17.5 percent luxury tax for first-time overages.
So, for example, rounding off to 20%, if the team exceeds the $210 million payroll limit by $20 million, they will be assessed tax of about $4 million, the cost of (let’s say) operating Cohen’s yacht for a year.
Mets: Today Or Tomorrow?
The central question remains, though, what are the Mets all about in 2021?
If they decide to look ahead, possibilities are endless, especially with the contracts of Michael Conforto and Marcus Stroman expiring after the season.
Go all-in now, or hope the rest of the division continues to falter, allowing the Mets to waltz into the playoffs as the NL East Champions, with unending possibilities after that?
We’ll know soon, and I don’t have a crystal ball saying what the Mets will do.
But it sure is intriguing…
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Ron Donald It’s New York. Don’t they just print what they need?