The Mets may never have a chance like this to sign free agent talent. Load up now and trade-off the deadwood (not named Jeff McNeil) later.
The Mets have everything breaking their way this offseason. Robinson Cano gave the team a $24 million gift in lost salary for 2021, plus he opened up a spot at second base where the Mets can add some young talent to their shopping list this winter.
While most teams are scrambling to keep their head above water, hoping the 2021 season allows for recouping substantial losses endured in the 2020s shortened and fanless season.
Even the Yankees, who reportedly lost $900 million last year, are crying uncle while doing all they can to reserve payroll for their most coveted free-agent, DJ LeMahieu.
Adding to the Yankees’ misery is their projected team payroll for 2021 that already is within a mere $700,000 of this year’s luxury tax limit of $210 million.
Mets Sitting Pretty – Oh So Pretty
The Mets, on the other hand, have no such problems. Not only has the team inherited a new owner in Steve Cohen, whose deep pockets and willingness to invest in the future of any business venture he takes on, but the Mets have a “reserve” to spend before the luxury tax kicks in.
According to Spotrac, the Mets team payroll now stands at $141.8 million. This leaves a balance of $68 million in “spending money” before the team reaches the limit.
With this unusual and favorable background, the thing is this, though. Why are the Mets reportedly so hell-bent on trading for Francisco Lindor in a package deal that is said to include Jeff McNeil, a must-have for the Indians if a trade is to be consummated?
Lindor is only a one-year rental for any team that trades for him. Unless an extension is negotiated, Lindor hits the free-agent market next year when shortstop luminaries such as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story are also there for the Mets to sign.
And besides, the Mets need to stick to the plan that dictates the need for a catcher, center fielder, and at least one seasoned starting pitcher.
Based on comments received from previously published stories, the Mets fan base is in love with Trevor Bauer, and they will be disappointed if he signs elsewhere.
A development Steve Cohen will avoid at all costs in his attempt to usher in his stewardship of a team that has battered its fans for a decade.
Mets: Load ‘Em Up, Herd ‘Em In
The thrust of the Mets offseason can and should be to add as much talent as they can via the available free-agents while the getting’s good this year.
This means going all-out for either J.T. Realmuto or James McCann (not as sexy but still a good piece) at catcher, George Springer in center field, and if Trevor Bauer is on board, choosing between Jake Odorizzi and Charlie Morton to fill out the starting staff.
When we’re looking at players of this caliber, that $68 million the Mets have in reserve to spend before the luxury tax kicks in is all but erased.
But who cares (this year)? Has anyone heard anything from Steve Cohen about avoiding a luxury tax payment for 2021.
No, and we’re not likely to hear any rumblings that give Mets fans reason to recall the dark days of the Wilpon’s reign as owners.
This is why the proverbial strike while the iron is hot strategy makes sense for the Mets now.
You can count the number of teams on one hand who are actively engaged in the free-agent market this year. (Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets)
Mets: Add Now – Subtract Later
Later, but certainly, not now, the Mets will face roster space and payroll decisions to make room for these free-agent signings.
That is when the Mets can explore subtraction of players via trades as necessary. Remember, a luxury tax is assigned based on the end of season team payroll. If Cohen is even concerned about it, there is plenty of time to adjust the roster before then.
The last call…forget LeMahieu, who seems to favor the Yankees anyway, and Lindor. Go for the “meat and potatoes” they’re selling in the organic gourmet aisle Sandy Alderson promised he would be shopping in.
Because next year, that aisle is bound to become very crowded.