Steve Cohen Is Spending Lots Of Money, No Matter How Smart
Steve Cohen is going to have to foot the bill for the largest payroll in MLB history by a country mile.
The Mets signed Carlos Correa when everyone was asleep on Wednesday morning. Correa was seemingly destined for the NL West with the San Francisco Giants before he jumped back into free agency. The reason? The Giants found a back issue during his physical and disagreed with agent Scott Boras over its severity.
However, Trey Daubert said it best in his piece covering the move: Carlos Correa is an aircraft carrier. Even if he has to play third base, the guy is a difference maker. Throwing him into the mix with Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeill, and Starling Marte make the Mets an incredibly formidable team, right?
Not So Fast
It’s important to throw some cautious optimism into the mix. Yes, on paper, the Mets are the best team in baseball. And yes, Steve Cohen spent and/or “built” this team to win a World Series. But look back as recently as last year. The Los Angeles Dodgers had the highest payroll in baseball. With a murderer’s row to boot. So much to the point where Jeff Passan even had to catch a breath:
They got knocked out in the NLDS by the Padres.
The team that spends the most is not entitled to win it all. Look at the defending champs in Houston. Yes, they have money to spend. Their payroll sat in eighth in 2022, but they shell out cash to the stars they know they need to have around. The rest is just spent incredibly well. Investments that pretty much no one else has heard of. Framber Valdez and Jeremy Peña stepped in from obscurity to superstar status, which is why they were comfortable letting Justin Verlander go and get a handsome contract from none other than Cohen himself.
So, we gotta ask: how much is too much? Is excessive spending enough to win the World Series in 2023? Let’s take a look.
Let’s do some quick math. As it stands, the Mets’ payroll is roughly $384 million. As a result, the luxury tax penalties on top of that are $111 million.
The results? In 2023, Cohen could pay nearly half a billion dollars for this team. Even if they can offload guys like James McCann and Eduardo Escobar, that salary sheet is still leaps and bounds the largest ever.
With that in mind, you should hope that the Mets lineup can do some serious damage. This is not by any means confirmed, but here is a projected lineup that could be used in Queens:
1) CF Brandon Nimmo (8 years, $162 million)
2) 3B Carlos Correa (12 years, $315 million)
3) SS Francisco Lindor (10 years, $341 million in 2020)
4) 1B Pete Alonso
5) 2B Jeff McNeil
6) LF Mark Canha (2 years, $26.5 million in 2021)
7) DH Daniel Vogelbach
8) RF Starling Marte (4 years, $78 million in 2021)
9) C Omar Narváez (2 years, $15 million)
It would be a lie to say that isn’t a great lineup. I would say the only position in flux right now is catcher. Buck Showalter could pick between Narváez, Tomás Nido, and youngster Francisco Álvarez for behind the plate. It’s not quite on the level of last year’s Dodgers in my opinion, but still a very potent offense.
Everyone knows that Correa raises his game in October, so it will then become a question if the rest of the Mets can do the same. Will those holes in the lineup cost the Mets down the stretch? You gotta take everything into consideration here.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that there is some great defense to be played here, especially when Nido is catching. Correa and Lindor both have a platinum glove to their name, while Marte is a two-time gold glover. Nimmo’s defense has improved considerably in recent years.
I’m pretty confident in thinking that people could say the Mets have the best infield in baseball right now. You can obviously see this team winning it all next fall.
But the problem is you can also see other teams winning it all just as easily. The Phillies’ lineup was electrifying last year, and they just added Trea Turner. Houston could find a way to repeat because they’re Houston. The Dodgers have had so many bites at the apple.
I’m not making any predictions, folks. I just want to lay out the facts.
Steve Cohen invested even more strongly on the pitching staff compared to position players. One of the reasons being that he had to completely rebuild the starting rotation. Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker all found new deals in free agency. The result was bringing in Justin Verlander, José Quintana, and Kodai Senga.
Like I said earlier, it looks great on paper. But Cohen is gambling almost $90 million on two guys who have thrown a lot of baseballs in their career. I would think that Max Scherzer and Verlander’s resumes look better than their pitching does in 2023. They are undoubtedly two Hall of Famers with six Cy Young Awards and three World Series between them.
The fact of the matter is these two guys have had a lot of mileage in their amazing careers. They are an injury away from serious trouble.
Meanwhile, I am not going to say too much about Senga because I want to see how he does in the MLB. He could turn out to be a great No. 3 option, or it could be a risk that was not worth taking.
The bullpen looks pretty strong all things considered. Edwin Diaz had a historically good season as a closer, and the Mets paid him accordingly. They also brought back Adam Ottavino to complement options like Drew Smith and the recently acquired David Robertson.
Trey made a great point a long time ago about the Mets: They’re a team put together with super glue. I think they’re good enough to win the division and make the NLCS, but I just don’t have faith in them when the rubber meets the road.
If you give any general manager besides Billy Eppler the blank check of Steve Cohen, I believe they build a surefire World Series winner. Even Brian Cashman would find a way to turn a $384 million payroll into a serious contender. The Eppler conversation is meant for a different day, but I just don’t feel it in my heart about this team.
Maybe they’ll prove me wrong, but for right now, all this money just does not feel worth it. We could be looking at the most expensive disaster in sports within the next 3-4 years.
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