The World Series is over and the GM/PoBO meetings have come and gone. It’s now time where teams traditionally start to sign free agents, even if a ton of moves don’t come before the Winter Meetings. Now we can finally start to get some answers on how all-in the Mets will be in assembling their 2024 teams. Has Steve Cohen given David Stearns either firm or flexible payroll orders? Flexible, it seems. Here’s how Stearns termed it recently:

“I think Steve has proven he’s willing to invest in talent,” Stearns said. “This is an organization that’s proven it’s willing to invest in talent and we’re not going to shy away from that. I’ve said this at my opening press conference and I’ll continue to say it: we need to find the right time to do it.

“We can’t do it with every player. We can’t do it in every offseason. There are going to be points where we get really aggressive because we think it’s the right time, right opportunity right player, and there’s going to be points where we’ll be more reserved. Time will tell what this offseason brings; but sure, we’re clearly, as an organization, not afraid to make investments when they’re the right investments.”

Source: John Healy, SNY

Those first two lines in the second graph of the quote seem to be worth mentioning. At first glance, this seems harmless enough. No team can sign every player and no team goes hog wild year after year. Yet, somehow fans think Cohen is different. They believe that year after year after year that he’ll sink record dollar amounts into payroll and walk away with every shiny thing the team wants or needs.

At some point, the team will not be above the highest luxury tax threshold. And as crazy as it sounds, there might be a day where they’re not over any tax line. If the latter happens, that will be a good thing. It’ll mean that the farm system is cranking out talented players who aren’t on expensive contracts.

Another good thing will be when they don’t spend a lot of money on players no longer in the organization. Now, they will no longer be paying Robinson Cano. Following the 2024 season, they will no longer be paying James McCann and Max Scherzer. And Justin Verlander may be done after 2024 but no later than 2025.

Perhaps when the Verlander deal is off the books is when the salary re-set can happen.

In the meantime, my hope is that they view Yoshinobu Yamamoto as the right player at the right time to make an investment in talent. Some will react negatively, given the uncertainty of how he will adjust to playing in the U.S. Just because Kodai Senga was able to do it doesn’t mean that Yamamoto will, too. Plus, there’s the well-known bias against short RHP and Yamamoto is only listed at 5’10 on Baseball-Reference. Still, my thoughts are that his overseas track record and his age trump those concerns.

Others will hope that Pete Alonso is that player. While my take is that he isn’t worth a six-year or more deal, it will be fascinating to see how Stearns handles contract negotiations with the team’s star first baseman. To date, Stearns has said all of the right things in regards to Alonso. For someone like Stearns who’s been running the show for multiple years, the expectation should be to say all of the right things. Screwing up in that regard is for the inexperienced GMs, like Brodie Van Wagenen.

Ultimately, Stearns will be judged on who he decides is the right player and when he decides is the right time. Pre-Stearns, the Mets decided that Francisco Lindor, Edwin Diaz and Brandon Nimmo were the right players, with each getting at least a five-year deal. Senga’s not quite in that same category, as he has an opt-out that will almost certainly be used by him after the third year of his deal.

Alonso, Cody Bellinger, Jordan Montgomery, Ian Snell, Yamamoto – does Stearns see any of these – or others – as the right guy to give a five-year-or-more deal to this offseason? We’ll soon find out.

5 comments on “On David Stearns and investing in talent

  • Woodrow

    I don’t think Cohen worries about a salary reset. He did woory about having a winning,entertaining team. I expect another big FA year.

  • Metsense

    Wise investing isn’t just the money. The years of the contract should be taking into consideration also. Ideally, a contract should be finished when a star player is in his 35 year age. That is why Yamamoto could be signed to a 10-year contract and Alonso could be signed to a 6-year extension. $25m be fair for both of them.
    Snell at 5 years, Bellinger at 7 years and Montgomery at 5 years should get $25m or more. At those terms all of them could be signed. Rumor has It that all of them want more years.
    I thought Lindor and Nimmo should have been signed for 2 years less than they did.
    So far, Lindor has been valued at $134.5m per Fangraphs and the Mets paid him $90.5m. Nimmo has been valued at $34.8 and the Mets paid him $18.5m.

  • Mike W

    I think the Mets learned a good lesson from signing old players. They should be investing in younger players. Yamamoto and Soto are both in their mid 20s. It’s why I’d stay away from Ohtani.

    Seems like the Mets will also stay away from Chapman. He could have been a big risk overpay. I like the idea of shipping McNeil to Seattle for one of their young pitchers. A deal like the Marlins and Twins made last offseason with Arraez for Lopez.

    The biggest moves may be the trades.

    • Metsense

      Tyler Glasnow (Rays), Shane Bieber (Guardians) and Corbin Burnes (Brewers) should be trade targets for the Mets also.

  • ChrisF

    I agree with the core sentiment here Brian. By the same token, anyone that thinks Cohen will kust automatically spend spend spend has willfully been ignoring everything he’s been saying. He’s been willing to spend and rebuild the farm so that the depth can be promoted, augmented by the right FAs and so theres depth for trades. I personally believe hes interested in achieving balance of home grown, trade, FA. I agree that while he’s not afraid of competitive balance measures levied against him, that is not the end play.

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