For once, the Mets are wise, not cheap, in rejecting the deal for Francisco Lindor. The non-deal keeps payroll options open for key player extensions…
The Mets would love to have Francisco Lindor playing shortstop for his final two arbitration years, with the option to sign him long-term when he becomes a free agent in 2022. Who wouldn’t?
The cost of the Mets players involved in the swap, as reported by Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic, was steep (Amed Rosario and two top prospects), but not to the point of being a deal killer.
Instead, the real cost of the deal more likely involved the old Mets bugaboo – money and their unwillingness to part with it to improve the team. Not in this case, though.
Lindor’s arbitrated salary for this year and next is expected to total in the neighborhood of $80 million.
To put some perspective on that, consider that Jacob deGrom‘s salary over the same two years totals $62 million, eighteen million less than the shortstop Lindor is.
To add more perspective as to why Brodie Van Wagenen deserves a pat on the back for not jumping, as he is wrought to do, to land the All-Star shortstop with a personality sure to have lit up Citi Field, consider the table below. (Provided by Spotrac)
You’ll quickly see the Mets committed team payroll declines dramatically through the 2024 season. On the surface, then, this leaves the Mets open to the charge they’re cheap again, as Lindor’s salary easily fits into the team’s payroll with money to spare.
But if we go there, what are we missing that the Mets didn’t miss this time around?
The Mets have (on hand now) a core of position players who don’t grow on trees.
They are young, talented, and for the most part, have come up through the Mets system playing together and growing up together.
This group contains future and current All-Stars like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and on the outskirts, Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis.
Mets Have A Chance To Control Their Future
They’re just the way the Mets like ’em for now – cheap and productive.
But what happens when the productivity increases and their salaries begin to climb higher and higher?
Perhaps, even to the point where the Mets have a Lindor (think Alonso) on their hands, just as the Indians do now?
You know where I’m going with this, and I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to do so – extensions for all of these critical players – ASAP.
Perhaps in the bowels of Citi Field somewhere, there is a person dedicated to the future of the Mets.
Instead, though, what we see is a team operating year to year, with little or no attention paid to a long-term payroll budget.
Now, go back to the table for a minute and imagine the comfort Van Wagenen and ownership can feel if they were able to fill in some realistic and accurate numbers for 2022-2024.
We understand the players are going to get paid one way or another. So what’s the difference financially if the Mets do it the hard way via year-to-year potentially volatile arbitration cases, or by firmly locking them in now?
Mets Extensions And Calculated Risk
There is a risk involved with extensions, of course, and some of you may be thinking of examples of how they can go wrong.
Perhaps, you recall the $70 million seven-year extensions the Yankees granted to both Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino last year – and the subsequent series of injuries they incurred.
It’s fair to say, though, Severino’s 2019 season could not have been predicted, but that the Yankees were negligent in the case of Hicks, who has a career history of injury.
In the same way, the Mets might be wise to view Brandon Nimmo as a more significant risk than (say) Pete Alonso, refraining on an extension to Nimmo with a wait and see approach for a year or two.
The Mets did well by avoiding the entanglements the trade for Lindor would have brought to the team and organization.
But let’s see what they do with the financial freedom gained from rejecting the deal…