The Mets were never going to sign Gerrit Cole. Nor Anthony Rendon or Stephen Strasberg. Remember, the Wilpons still own this team and the sale to Steve Cohen isn’t complete.
And one thing is for certain: Paying a luxury xax isn’t the Wilpon Way.
With the signing of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to one year deals, the payroll is around $208 million, meaning they are at the threshold of the tax, so some creative thinking needs to happen before other moves happen.
And before you wonder how this happened, remember even dead money on the payroll counts to the tax. That means David Wright’s salary and Yoenis Cespedes’s $30 million are all counted, even if No. 52 doesn’t play a game this season.
So the backend rotation moves are just a beginning. With now six starters signed for next year, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will not look to shred some payroll. Jed Lowie and his $10 million is a prime candidate, but with his stellar performance last season, there will need to a pot sweetener, hence the extra pitcher.
Look for the Mets to get feelers on Steven Matz or even Marcus Stroman if they can include an extraneous contact like Lowie or even Cespedes in the deal.
Now back to the two signings. Both Wacha and Porcello are coming off down years, but their one-year deals mean they have something to prove. Wacha, has been in the National League with the Cardinals for years, however injuries sidelined him in 2019. Limited to 24 starts and five relief appearances, he went 6-7 with a 4.76 ERA, but with a career ERA of 3.91, he could be a solid middle of the rotation addition.
Same with Porcello, the 2016 American League Cy Young winner. Last season, he went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA. Took a one year deal with the Mets, so he can reset free agency next year. Instead of hitter-friendly Fenway, he will take the Citi Field mound, which will help his ERA.
And that’s a good start, because there’s work still to be done. The Mets need bullpen help and the outfield situation needs to be resolved as well. Van Wagenen has two months to take care of those holes.
The hot stove has just begun for the Mets.