A very interesting development coming out of New York this week – and no, I don’t mean that lawsuit – is the revelation from Mets GM Sandy Alderson that the team will not likely be spending much money this offseason.
While there have been for a few years now some parallels between the goings on with the Mets and Cubs – large market teams dealing with unique financial issues, trying to rebuild with a young core, bright front offices, etc. – one could argue that there was a significant divergence as recently as the past year or so, with the Mets committing huge money to David Wright, and signing a couple near-term, not cheap free agents in Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon before the 2014 season. Each deal felt a strange fit for the Mets, given where they were in the rebuild, and, indeed, neither deal has worked out particularly well.
For that reason, presumably among others, Alderson described spending big in free agency this year as “prohibitive,” according to the New York Post. Alderson went on to explain, of course, that a team can be upgraded in ways other than free agency.
These are notable comments for at least two reasons. First, the Mets don’t have an enormous payroll as it is. Indeed, they entered the season at just over $89 million in payroll, which was the same as the Cubs, according to the AP. Thus, given their market, the theoretically improving financial picture, and a young core that could use some help, you would have expected the Mets to be a reasonable spender this year. If they aren’t to be, then there’s one less plausible suitor for some of the bigger names out there. How aggressive the Mets could have or would have been, in any case, was always debatable. But now it seems more certain that they won’t be.
Second, if the Mets don’t go the free agency route, but do want to upgrade their offense – as Alderson indicates – then they would be looking at trades. And, as we’ve discussed perhaps too many times already this year, the Cubs could make for an interesting trade partner, given their abundance of young, talented bats. The Mets have the arms to pair up in a trade, so, no, these rumors aren’t going to go away any time soon.
Now, could Alderson be posturing in advance of free agency? It’s possible. He’s sending the message that the Mets won’t have much to spend in free agency, and maybe that helps a teeny, tiny bit in negotiations. But do you really send this message and then pursue a big name with big dollars? I really doubt it.
Thus, I’d expect the Mets to be heavily involved in trade talks this offseason, which may or may not include the Cubs. There’s a fit there, though, to be sure.