I don’t have any kind of specific level of distain for how much Steve Cohen and the New York Mets spent on payroll this year. We would love it if the Ricketts Family made a $300+ million payroll available to the Chicago Cubs, after all.
Where my antipathy grew and grew and grew was that the Mets had this clear opportunity to make a deep run in the postseason, with a boatload of older stars and impending free agents and two older true aces, and they turned coward at the Trade Deadline. It was their final chance to add impactful pieces to the team – for the other players and for the fans – and it wound up potentially hurting the Cubs in the process, as you know by now.
So, yes, I was absolutely pulling hard for the Mets to lose the NL East late in the year, and for the San Diego Padres to take them out in the Wild Card round this weekend, as they did last night with a 6-0 shutout win.
Insult to injury in the loss last night: Mets manager Buck Showalter decided to have the umpires investigate Joe Musgrove for foreign substances in the sixth inning and nothing turned up. It’s going to be a joke for years and years and years.
It was a final humiliation in a season that could’ve been a championship march. I’m not saying the Mets definitely win the East or make a deep run if they’d had Willson Contreras and David Robertson, but it’s not hard to imagine them winning just one more game in September. If they had, they’re in the division series against the Phillies tomorrow. Hope it was worth hanging onto your fifth or sixth best prospect or whatever so that you could have a fractionally better chance of reaching, and losing, more Wild Card series over the next few years …
Now for the broader impactful part: how does Mets owner Steve Cohen respond to this humiliation?
It’s not hard to see him going any number of ways. He could go scorched earth and clear out a number of players and personnel, while turning over as much of the roster as possible. They have the money and the impending free agents to do that. He could decide they just need to run it back, and re-sign all of Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz, Brandon Nimmo, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, Seth Lugo, and Trevor May, among others, and push that payroll up to $350 million+. He could decide he needs to do whatever it takes to bring in a top-tier baseball president first, and who knows what ripples that creates. Or he could decide money doesn’t win championships and retrench.
That is all to say, because of the Mets’ group of free agents and Cohen’s largess, they have the ability to completely shift the dynamics of the offseason for every team that is looking to spend, including the Cubs.
So it’s not all just about schadenfreude with the Mets. Sure, I’ve enjoyed this weekend and the jokes a whole lot, but now we have to see what messaging comes out of New York. The Cubs figure to be aggressive at the top of the market, but it’s not like they’re going to get into a WHATEVER-IT-TAKES bidding war with the Mets on Jacob deGrom if Cohen is absolutely insistent on deGrom returning no matter what. That’s just one hyper-specific example, but hopefully the broader point is clear.
The New York Mets are among the few teams that can fundamentally alter the course of the offseason for multiple other teams, and now maybe they have a reason to be even more disruptive.