Mets general manager Sandy Alderson took a shopping list that Steven Cohen gave him and came home with a full cart. Many of the items in there were just what the owner asked for, but lately, to close out free agency, a lot of them were off-brands, items he could get cheaper and hope that he could satisfy his new boss by getting more by spending less, but that rarely works in the world of baseball.
Taijuan Walker signed for two years, $10 million per year with a player option for 2023. In translation, just over two years out from Tommy John surgery, the pitcher hopes to return to form as many do, and if he does, then he will leave for free agency. That’s the end game and the Mets are hopeful they get 75% of the pitcher who won 11 games in 2015? Wait, 11 games? That’s it? He’s one game over .500 for his career and they paid him this much? These are the Frank Francisco low-cost signings that killed the Mets the last time when the production failed to meet the expectations.
Kevin Pillar is another low-cost signing for minimum results. If you’re looking for a late-inning defensive replacement, and you’re a potential championship club, then you sign him for this weird two-year deal that makes it possible for the outfielder to collect 1.4 million as a buyout as he leaves New York.
Albert Almora Jr. is another outfielder or another guy, the Mets got since they lost out on George Springer, who would have cost more and provided a lot more than the sum of these two players.
The Mets didn’t sign one big name in free agency. They paraded around catcher James McCann like they have the next Gary Carter instead of waiting out the market on J.T. Realmuto, who now returns to your competitor at a reduced rate. Patience has been lacking in the Mets front office since Alderson has returned. The big trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco will define the Mets offseason besides adding some bodies to their farm system and fans will hope a few of them have promise down the road.
The Mets are third in baseball in payroll, so they’ve added salary, but not long-term salary, not yet, and that’s the part that is puzzling. Why do they care about payroll flexibility down the road? The owner is flush with cash.
One more issue is the impending free agency of star outfield Michael Conforto. He’s been speaking publicly about wanting to remain with the team but there haven’t been any negotiations. At least that’s what he said a few weeks ago. Who deserves to get an extension first, Lindor or Conforto? My belief is Conforto. You take care of your homegrown players first and then you worry about the player you acquired. Alderson hasn’t always rewarded the home-grown player so this is now becoming a worry again where most believed he would have been locked up by now.
With the Mets, some things changed but many practices stayed the same.