Mets need to spend smarter, not harder

Over the past few seasons, the Mets have not exactly been the poster child for efficiency. Whether it be in the way that the product on the field has performed, or the way that the front office has spent during the past few offseasons, the Mets are an easy team to criticize. This past season, the team was successful on the field, finishing 10 games over the .500 mark at 86-76. This is simply a silver lining however, as the strong record ended in them watching the playoffs from home and waving good-bye to manager Mickey Callaway after just two seasons.

With their payroll of $160,023,984, the Mets ranked 10th highest in the MLB. This past season proved however though that dropping large sums of money on the roster does not always add up to success. Five of the ten teams that spent in the top 10 in payroll this season missed the playoffs, and four of those five teams are spending the offseason looking for a new manager. What does this say about the teams that missed the playoffs? It spells out clearly that they mismanaged the assets that they had and made poor financial decisions.

Focusing on the Mets, their clear financial mistake was over-dumping money into the infield. $36.5 million was spent on the trio of Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Jed Lowrie. That is $36.5 million spent on three players who combined to play a total of 249 games. Put together their collective WARs, and the result is a lowly 2.3. Considering that the value of one WAR point is slightly above $10 million, it is clear that the money was not handled responsibly when acquiring the three players listed above. The issue with their inefficiency is that the Mets had much cheaper solutions at the ready in the infield. The likes of Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, and J.D. Davis all outplayed the aforementioned trio, while only costing a little over $1.6 million.

What could the Mets have done with that spare money? The obvious answer is that they could have thrown that spare money towards the bullpen. With that money, the Mets could have chased Adam Ottavino, who signed for $9 million per year with the New York Yankees, and Joe Smith of the Houston Astros, who signed for $7.5 million per year. Both of these relievers could have benefited the New York Mets extensively this season. Instead, their money was sunk into an infield that became over-crowded.

Another mark to show just how inefficient the Mets were at putting together their roster is how much they paid per win this season. The Mets paid $1.86 million per win during the 2019 season. The Tampa Bay Rays were dead last in payroll this season and spent $668,528 for each of their wins this season. Yet, it was the Rays who ended up winning 96 games, and even making it to Game 5 of the ALDS against the Houston Astros. So, not only did the Rays win more games than the Mets, they paid less for each of their wins.

Sure, there are factors that are in place when comparing the two teams. The Rays will probably never have the same amount of capital to spend on premium free agents like the Mets do. The Rays will also probably never have the same number of fans complaining to the Twitter world about how their team does not spend enough money. In defense of the Mets, they have actually spent the money that they were once so weary to shell out. Now, they just have to figure out how to spend it correctly.

For this upcoming free agency period, that absolutely has to mean that they invest more money into the bullpen. There will be a lot of interesting targets to go after this offseason, and there is no reason that the team can’t go out and spend on these targets. It needs to be recognized that even a small improvement on the bullpen that we had to witness in 2019 might have meant playoffs for the Mets.

The 2020 edition of the New York Mets will have a new leader at the helm, but they should not look to be extremely different than the 2019 version. Sure, the rotation might look different for the first time in a while, and there will be new faces in the bullpen, but none of their major pieces from the lineup will be lost to free agency. If this is an offseason of efficiency for Brodie Van Wagenen, 2020 can be a season of success for the New York Mets.

Takeaways:

1. The Mets spent irresponsibly on their infield last offseason.
2. It cost the Mets $1.86 million for each win during the 2019 season.
3. Combined,McNeil, Alonso, and Davis costed the Mets a combined $1.6 million on the payroll in 2019.

2 comments for “Mets need to spend smarter, not harder

  1. Rob
    October 19, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Good article. I was puzzled too by last years infield glut since you already had Frazier, Roasrio, McNeil and Alonzo or Smith.

  2. MattyMets
    October 21, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Sometimes it’s a matter of hindsight is 20/20, like no one knew Pete Alonso would be this good. Or JD Davis. Or that Dom Smith would become such a spark plug or that Rosario would finally step up. And the front office wasn’t convinced McNeil’s great 2018 half season wasn’t a fluke. The infield was not so certain going into last off-season. One of the many problems with the Cano-Diaz trade is that Cano plays a position that is very easy to fill. There are always second baseman available. Prior to making that deal I wanted the Mets to go after DJ Lemahieu and sign Andrew Miller. Once that lopsided deal with Seattle was done though, I thought, if the Mets had any money left to spend it should go toward rotation or outfield depth. Adam Jones was sitting there in the bargain bin for the taking. Instead, we inexplicably signed Jed Lowrie – a move I immediately lambasted. Had he stayed healthy, he would have taken playing time away from McNeil, Davis and Smith. After signing Lowrie, we were all calling for Frazier to get traded or dumped. Perhaps he would haver been if Lowrie stayed healthy. Now, at best, Lowrie will be a very expensive bench piece in 2020.

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