George Springer is a name that has been connected to the Mets since the offseason began. As of January 1st, he’s still not a Met and all reports seem to indicate that Springer and the team are pretty far apart in negotiations. Recent reporting has the Mets holding fast at four years and Springer asking for six and an excess of 150 million dollars. That seems to indicate he’s asking for at least 25 million a year, which is probably a fairly reasonable salary for the veteran considering how talented he is. The problem with the Springer situation is that it seems to have put the Mets offseason temporarily on hold. Outside of rumors that the Mets might be closing in on signing top Japanese pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, all other rumors seem to be pending what happens with Springer, possibly even extension talks with Michael Conforto.

Why is this? It appears to be that Steve Cohen, the extremely wealthy new Mets owner, has put a bit of a salary cap on spending. The luxury tax in professional baseball kicks in after a team exceeds 210 million on player salaries. The tax rate is 20% for up to the first 20 million dollars and then increases from there. That doesn’t seem like a huge amount in the grand scheme of baseball salaries. For instance, if the Mets salaries added up to 220 million, Cohen would pay 2 million to Major League Baseball, where it would be evenly distributed to player benefits and lower salary organizations.

The issue is less about 2021 and more about future seasons. If the Mets go over the tax this year it is extremely likely that they will be over the tax next year, when you consider player additions, increased salaries to current arbitration players and first time eligible players like Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. With each consecutive occurrence, the percentage increases, maxing out at a 50% rate after a third consecutive year. Cohen has said he would “probably go over the tax” at some point, but also wanted to maintain “payroll flexibility” for the future. That seems to indicate that Cohen isn’t ready to start paying any level of tax this year and wants to see how the team performs before crossing that threshold in the future.

This is why the Springer situation is so important. Signing Springer to an annual salary of 25 to 27 million would put the Mets at about 25 million below the tax line. If they sign Sugano, that would probably dip that figure to 12 or 13 million. That makes it difficult to sign a second starting pitcher or a high end bullpen arm like Liam Hendricks or Brad Hand. However, at least the Mets would then know how close they were to the tax line. It would also open the door for other moves, like trades. Without Springer though, the centerfield situation is still very much up in the air, with everyone agreeing that Brandon Nimmo isn’t the answer there moving forward, but is the current starter. Other options exist on both the trade market and in free agency, but they are a significant step down from Springer.

Luckily for the Mets the offseason has been exceedingly slow in developing. All of the big name free agents are still available and trade targets like Francisco Lindor could still be reachable since it seems their markets aren’t very robust. This puts the Mets in the driver’s seat for a lot of possible moves and allows them to wait out Springer. It would be nice to have some finality in this long back and forth with the centerfielder, but it also doesn’t make sense for the Mets to bid against themselves just to move forward with other moves.

Despite all of this, 2021 still appears to be a year in which Mets fans can finally feel good about the organization. It has money. It’s involved with nearly every major player that hits the market, whether via trade rumors or free agency. It has a new front office that not only is committed to modern baseball, like analytics, but is also actually built from baseball minds, as opposed to a big name or a random outsider like Brodie Van Wanegan. So yes, we are all waiting on a move. We are all sitting back and, as Mets fans, can’t help but think “same old Mets, always rumored to but never actually getting the big name”. You know, like Vladimir Guerrero, Alex Rodriguez and many others. But it’s not the same. This is what good teams in the Mets position do and goes to show what Sandy Alderson might have been able to do in his first tenure with the Mets if he wasn’t working under the frugality of the Wilpon family.

Hold tight in this new year, Mets fans. This front office is going to make this team better. It already has and will continue to do so. It will do it without sacrificing the team’s future, both in prospects and in long term salary. Hopefully, this new year will also be a beginning, not just of a new season, but also of an extended time of success and relevancy. Happy New Year all! Looking forward to it.

15 comments on “George Springer and the new Mets

  • TexasGusCC

    Scott, good summary of where things are at. Something was mentioned by another commenter here regarding Springer, and I loved it. Remember1969 offered that if the Mets trade for Lindor, he can be their Springer and then just sign Jackie Bradley. In essence, you’re turning Gimenez into Bradley and using the money Springer would get to help re-sign Lindor who is 27 and entering his prime, while Springer is 31 and leaving his prime.

    As for the Lindor trade, I put in Gimenez and Davis and got back Carrasco, Lindor, and prospect (Moss). The trade was a perfect 45.5 weight on both sides. I’d like to keep Davis and offer Vientos – which balances if you remove Moss – but I think the Mets live with either. Those wanting to keep Gimenez may prefer a trade similar to what the Dodgers gave up for Machado, because Lindor’s and Machado’ numbers for ages 23-26 are almost identical. The Dodgers gave up five very low minors prospects that all fizzled out. I don’t feel comfortable about that but don’t have Gimenez in high regard.

    Just another angle to consider while Springer waits for 6/$150.

    • Brian Joura

      Whenever you think about value and how much a player is worth and if you should get that person – you have to think of their total value. That’s offense, defense, baserunning. There’s no reason to think that Jackie Bradley Jr. total contribution will exceed Brandon Nimmo’s. Last year, when Nimmo was worse than expected on defense and JBJ was better than expected on offense, they were virtually identical, with a slight edge to Nimmo. What happens when JBJ regresses on offense?

      • Mike W

        You are right on the money about Bradley. If the Mets can’t sign Springer, because he wants too much money or we are outbid by Toronto, then I think the Mets dive on LeMahieu. Leave Nimmo in center and Smith in left.

        I don’t have a problem with the Mets being judicious with their money. They are in on a lot if players and will sign good players to a “fair” deal.

      • Remember1969

        The JBJ/Lindor coupling was one plan that I considered if they lost out on Springer, or Springer got too expensive.

        While I agree that JBJ as a total package does not exceed Nimmo as a total package, this could be one case where the total of the two is greater than the sum of the parts.

        The defense that JBJ would provide in center would far exceed anything that Nimmo can provide. By moving Nimmo to left, you lift his ‘total package’ up with a more natural playing position and the same offense. Even if JBJ were to regress offensively, he still brings that elite defense and speed.

        I don’t have any real data to back it up, but I am a believer that better defense in the field makes pitchers better without changing anything, both in results and approach. If they know that their guy can ‘go and get it’, they can more confidently pitch to contact rather than feeling the need for the strikeout.

        The other piece of this is that if JBJ, then Lindor. Having Lindor at short is the key to settling for the next best centerfielder.

  • Chris

    I hope they have a plan “B”. Both Spinger and Bauer want ridiculous money. I wonder if they can get a near ready CF from a team in a trade? Or unload Familia, Betances, Rosario, Davis for prospects to accelerate development of the minors and free up some additional salary space for use getting better pitching.

  • Metsense

    The baseball contract expires after this season and the luxury tax is going to be a focal point of the negotiations. The player’s union feels that it is a salary cap and wants to do away with it. The owners contend it is necessary for competitive balance but their argument is faulty. It is apparent that in luxury tax will be modified in the players favor in the next contract so therefore it should be less concerning for the future and the penalty is minimal in the grand scheme of this year. This is just another reason to sign Springer.

    • Unk

      Wow bro, that’s something that never crossed my mind… Thx

  • Brian Joura

    One other thing to add to the equation – Cano doesn’t count this year because of the suspension but the next two years his $20.25 million per year comes back into play. If they go over the luxury tax without Cano’s salary – it just puts them in that much more of a difficult situation when Cano’s salary gets added back.

    • Scott Ferguson

      Cano is covered by Familia, Betances, Brach and Gsellman next year. I can’t see any of those guys back. If the Mets sign Sugano, I also think they will only retain one of Matz, Stroman and Syndergaard. That’s nearly 33 million in cap, but part of that would be going to the one guy they retain.

  • TJ

    Good points above regarding the labor agreement and Cano’s salary. I don’t think we can assume anything regarding how the agreement will be resolved. Yes, the players don’t like to “cap”, but they don’t like a bunch of things, and perhaps will prioritize earlier arbitration or free agency, or payroll tanking, roster size, etc. Tradeoffs will need to be made.

    Springer is a really good fit, but not at all costs, even with a wealthy owner willing to spend. The Mets will almost certainly be a second tier playoff challenger in 2021, even if they add two big free agents. But we all want a sustainable winner, which means projections on Conforto, Syndergaard, Stroman, 2022 free agents, etc., will need to be considered to some degree now. I find this planning to have more consequence to how they proceed now than the luxury ta line. Even top spending teams can get top heavy very quickly with a few bad contracts. Yes, I want Springer, and/or Bauer, but I’d prefer some competent lower cost additions that allow for future flexibility more than major overpay deals that limit the ability to address issues through free agency next winter. The prospect gap in the upper levels won’t be cured overnight unless guys like Allan, Alvarez, and Mauricio have awesome 2021 seasons and are knocking at the MLB door in 2022…possible but unlikely. A competent starter, two quality additions to the pen, and some defensive bench depth at 3B and CF would make a lot of sense…with the ability to retain homegrown talent and add going forward.

    • Brian Joura

      It’s going to be fascinating to see how the minor league system plays out, having lost a year of development and then 2/3 farm clubs, too. But we never know how young guys are going to shake out and on what schedule. This time last year the idea that Gimenez and Peterson would both come up and be solid contributors (or better) at the major league level in 2020 would have been laughed at. On one hand, I hope there’s no opportunity for someone from the farm to come up and get consistent playing time. On the other hand, you can’t show anything without an opportunity

      • Scott Ferguson

        Giminez and Conforto are why it’s hard for me to see Lindor coming here. Conforto deserves the extension. He’s homegrown, a clubhouse leader and just entering his prime. They also don’t have an immediate replacement.

        I think Giminez makes it possible they trade Davis, especially with the news that Rosario will be getting reps at 3rd. If Springer signs, I think Nimmo gets traded for pitching and Smith is the everyday leftfielder.

  • NCMetFan

    Coming into this offseason the positions with the greatest potential for offensive upgrade were C and SS. The three most important defensive positions are C, SS, CF. The challenge is to upgrade that total package while improving defense compared to 2020. Mission accomplished at C! So what combo is better, Springer & Gimenez or Lindor & Bradley? That’s $27MM vs $30MM, about a wash except the prospects it cost to get Lindor. If the Mets can get two pitchers to fill out the rotation for $23MM then that seems to be the better option provided Springer can be had for 5 years at $135MM. Maybe add Oderizzi and Walker to round out the rotation and no dumb ass “catches us” declarations.

    • TexasGusCC

      NCFan, it is also my assertion that the combo of Lindor and Bradley is better than the Springer and Gimenez combo. Bradley has had two good hitting years out of the last three and you could get him for two to three years while Springer will get five years until he’s 36. I just think it’s a more productive route unless the package to get Lindor is ridiculous.

      Brian is right that offense and defense for Nimmo must be weighed together, and I have said that I was ok with Nimmo once he started playing deeper. But, his ratings were last in the majors and so I can see an upgrade. Problem is that Springer was 16th; not the most flattering upgrade.

  • Edwin e Pena

    Uncle Stevie is just to savy to bid against himself. Who are the other real contenders for Springer ? Jays ? Really ? I don’t see them ponying up $25m for anyone. Didn’t they lose a ton of money last year ? Aren’t they in position to lose a ton more this year, possibly not playing in Canada ? No, Jays are not real players for Springer. Just smoke coming from their camps. Red Sox or Yankees ?
    If these teams were in it, I would be nervous, but they aren’t either. Angels always are a dark horse and have been known to swoop in when unexpected, but they need pitching more than Springer. I would put them at top for Bauer. This all brings Springer back to the Mets. However, at Uncle Stevie’s price, not George Springer’s. My guess is $130M = $26M X 5. After Springer, add Odorizzi and Sugano, possibly for a combined $25M and let’s all just go to Port St Lucie in Feb !

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