Let’s delve into why the Wilpons should aggressively spend this offseason.
But how about we avoid the anger over what they haven’t done in the past or the fury that they still own the team. The past can be learned from but not changed and I can hardly think of anything less useful to do with your time than scream that people who are not going to sell a team should sell a team.
Instead, let’s be logical about this, let’s look at the situation and see if a compelling case can be proposed on why the Mets should open their wallet:
1. Because they say they want to contend. Now. Brodie Van Wagenen said so at his introductory press conference. And the Mets are not getting from 30 games under .500 the past two years to 90-plus wins just by changing the general manager and bench coach.
2. Because this is the honeymoon period. Ownership changes GMs usually because stuff has gone wrong and will allow the new hire greater latitude. The danger is that Van Wagenen is new in a near-unique way, having come from the agent world and is having to learn so much about being on this side of the sport.
Nevertheless, from being on the other side as an agent, his area of expertise should include negotiating contracts and having a pretty good idea of when a representative is over-selling and outright lying about the skills and market for clients. So if the Wilpons are not going to trust Van Wagenen on what to invest in, why was he even hired?
3. Because he Mets have zero dollars invested in 2021 payroll. That is a powerful element to be so evergreen in the near future. Heck, the only players with guaranteed contracts for 2020 are Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright.
Whatever the calculations and even adding in what was paid on premiums, the Mets should have dollars to play with short and, especially, long term. The Phillies, having created a similar dynamic, are being associated with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. And the Mets share with Philadelphia both a division and being a Northeast large-market team.
4. Because the NL’s heavyweights look to be standing down. Either the Cubs or Dodgers have represented the NL in the World Series the past three years.
Chicago already projects to over the $206 million 2019 luxury tax threshold next year and the early indicators are that the Cubs are going to shun the big financial acquisition and might actually have to subtract future dollars to add on in areas of need — which is why the possibility of even trading Kris Bryant has emerged
The Los Angeles Times recently published a story that Dodgers ownership sent a letter to potential investors that they intend to be under the luxury tax for four straight seasons. They were in 2018 and this would mean 2019-21 too. So, the Dodgers also would have to be out of the big-ticket game.
Besides the Phillies, the other NL teams with the potential to financially flex this offseason are the Cardinals and perhaps the Braves. A New York team should really be able to monetarily mix it up with Chicago and LA, and certainly St. Louis and Atlanta.
5. Because a willingness to spend opens avenues. I recently made a case why I thought Machado made sense for the Mets. I have seen no signs that the Mets are willing to write that size check and take on that level of risk. Fine. Take Machado and Harper off the board.
But why couldn’t the Mets trade Noah Syndergaard to address needs short term, long term and in the areas of athleticism and roster depth? The Padres, for example, are feeling some pressure to begin winning and Baseball America just ranked San Diego with the majors’ No. 1 farm system. Take super-prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. off the table — how about a package built around Luis Urias, Austin Hedges and MacKenzie Gore? Then why couldn’t the Mets outflank the Yankees, among others, and go to the top of the free-agent starter ranks for a Patrick Corbin or Nathan Eovaldi to replace Syndergaard.
And remember money is not only for external acquisition. The Mets could sign Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler to extensions and with Steve Matz and, say, Corbin keep what is their strength a strength for an extended period.
Being willing to spend also affords a team a chance to perhaps limit prospect return by taking on money in trades. For example, the Mets want to add multiple relievers and, perhaps, one could be near the top of the free-agent market such as Zach Britton, Andrew Miller or David Robertson. But they also could see just how much the Cubs want out from Steve Cishek, the Diamondbacks from Brad Boxberger or the Giants from a few relievers, including Tony Watson.
The reason to be truly open to spend is not to make fans stop complaining. It is to try to assemble the best team possible. And — shut off the outside noise — there are plenty of reasons for the Mets to be financially aggressive this offseason.