I have always said baseball economics is a matter of the haves and have nots and that applies to Mets owner Steve Cohen, who just put together a record offseason of spending ($498.1 million) of free agents. The Mets have the largest payroll in baseball and the owner is committed to non stop spending.
The haves of Steve Cohen is the ability to sign veteran AL Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander (2-years, $43.3 AAV). Edwin Diaz is the long term closer with a record breaking contract, while Brandon Nimmo, the homegrown centerfielder, was re-signed, just to name a few components of the spending spree.
A Mets owner who defended a spending spree this week with his team closing in on Opening Day in six weeks, who is doing nothing wrong, and will pay a Competitive Balance Tax that could exceed $100 million. Recall, a salary cap does not exist between the owners and players.
Yet, the competitive structure of baseball is dictated with those haves and have nots. Cohen can spend, along with the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, and Padres. So too, can the Angels if they choose to go that route.
The Pirates, Reds, Rockies, and the always “MoneyBall” Athletics are in that so-called have nots territory, though they choose to remain in that low budget tier with awkward spending habits. It’s a disparity but one that’s accepted with the new rules of baseball economics.
“When I do something, I don’t do it halfway,” Cohen said. “When I’m in, I’m all in, I don’t accept mediocrity well. And I do have a certain high expectation. It requires me to invest in this club, I’m going to do it.”
Basically, a have that is permitted with a Collective Bargaining Agreement, one that is unprecedented and appeasing to a Mets fan base with that commitment to win. The other owners can also follow the rules and choose to be the have nots. So, Steve Cohen is justified with his spending habits.
The objective, spend now and remain competitive. The owner vowed to his fans to get a World Series title in three to five years. Spend now to win and continue building a minor league system. Cohen has a luxury of following the rules while his Mets are projected to be playing baseball in late October.
The Mets signed 10 players to MLB contracts, pulled a few trades, and almost secured Carlos Correa to another record contract, Jacob deGrom was gone, Verlander was in. They were aggressive and in position to proceed with a spending plan after deGrom, the two-time Cy Young Award winner, signed with the Rangers.
“Ultimately, I want to develop a farm system and lower our payroll to something more reasonable,” Cohen said this week. “They (Owners) laid down the rules, and I’m following them. You know how hard it is to get into the World Series, right? The only thing you can do is put yourself in a position where good things can happen.”
Record spending and historic offseason for the Mets enhances their chances of reaching the postseason, as long as the health of the roster, preparation, and everything falls in place. All of this was in place last year with 101 wins. But the Mets fell short of their goals and allowed the Braves to surpass them in the NL East, only to then lose in a best of three NL Wild Card series to the Padres.
Much too early to predict the result of this spending, heck, October is many months away. And, yes, all the factors have to be in place for the Mets to be that team to beat in October, though there is another factor to this madness of spending.
Cohen and the Mets are looking ahead to the farm system as a building block that lessens the need for a spending spree in free agency.
Ultimately though, the process that Steve Cohen is providing is that building block while producing a contender with his spending spree. He said, developing a farm system and keeping the payroll to something more reasonable is a priority.
Regardless, the Mets have the richest and most aggressive owner. He is not timid about outspending 0ther clubs, while providing GM Billy Eppler and the front office those needs to build a winning team. He will continue to spend and the Mets will finish first in their division or as an NL Wild Card.
It’s about the spending and a World Series championship. It’s about the haves and the have nots. Cohen is part of the haves and there is nothing wrong with spending.
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube