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Mets in ‘New York Spending Groove’

Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

NEW YORK– The highest payroll in baseball history with no end in sight, as the Mets and team owner Steve Cohen pedal to the ‘New York Spending Groove’. Signing five free agents for a combined $360 million and bolstering a roster off a year of 101 regular season victories, the Mets 2023 Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) is currently projected at a staggering $345 million. Including the penalties? A $421 million payroll. But, don’t expect them to stop now. 

To put the spending frenzy into perspective: approximately four MLB franchises had a 2022 team payroll of under $76 million (Cleveland Guardians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles) — if the Mets were to stop spending today and make no more additional moves this offseason, the organization would be forced into paying around a $76 million tax in penalties due to exceeding the CBT, which is set to $233 million for the 2023 season with the highest threshold, or in other words ‘the Steve Cohen Tax’ at $293 million. 

Less than two weeks ago, when Mets faithful experienced their coveted Two-Time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom depart from Queens for Texas, Cohen and General Manager Billy Eppler, made it abundantly clear, the dominoes will fall.

And from now to then, New York solidified their starting pitching rotation, strengthened the bullpen, as well as retained their homegrown center-fielder in Brandon Nimmo, signing him for eight years totaling $162 million (20.25 AAV). 

Brandon Nimmo Returns – 8 Years/$162 Million

Nimmo, 29, longest current tenured Met, debuted on June 26th, 2016, and developed into a fan favorite at Citi Field, transcending his level of production on both sides of the diamond with hyperbolic hustle and grit. He’s integrated into one of the premiere center fielders across MLB, finishing second among CF in 2022 in OBP (.367), only behind the American League MVP, cross-town rival New York Yankees Aaron Judge. 

Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

“His hustle and personality are a part of what makes this team so special,” said Cohen on Nimmo.

In 151 games last season, Nimmo eclipsed his market value totaling a Defensive WAR of 1.9, while batting .274 with 16 HR, 64 RBI, and 159 hits. He became a highly sought out target for a contingency of teams across the market as the Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies showed tremendous interest before the Mets were able to lure him back to Queens. 

Justin Verlander to Queens – 2 Year/$86.6 Million, Vesting option of 35M for 3rd Year

As my colleague and Latino Sports journalist Billy Coppola provided an in depth analysis on the Mets signing the Three-Time Cy Young Award winner, Verlander, the question now becomes can two aces at the severity of their ages (Verlander; 39 & Max Scherzer; 38) carry a lethal workload through a 162-game regular season plus a month long postseason run? 

Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

Time will tell, but in 222 combined starts with an ERA of 2.51 and 1,826 strikeouts since 2018, Scherzer and Verlander are the best bets out there to complete the difficult straining feat. Not to mention, six Cy Young Awards, and 445 career victories between the two future Cooperstown Hall of Famers.

Japanese Sensation Kodai Senga Signs with Mets – 5 Year/$75 Million

Senga, 29, of Gamagori, Japan is a highly regarded talent known across the globe for carrying a pitching arsenal between a flaming fastball, curveball, slider, and mysterious splitter/forkball. The right-hander was a spectacle among the free agency market as the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres fell short in the sweepstakes. 

“If this guy stays healthy, he will help put the Mets in a World Series,” a longtime baseball scout said this week about the Senga signing. “There is always a look-see period for pitchers from Japan when they have to throw an MLB ball vs the Japan ball, that is a bit smaller and has a better grip for spin.”

Over the course of 11 seasons in Japan’s NPO (Nippon Professional League), Senga went 87-44 with a 2.59 ERA and 1,252 strikeouts in 1,089 innings. In 2022, he posted a 1.89 ERA in 23 starts with a record of 11-6. 

Colombia Native José Quintana Joins Verlander, Scherzer in NY – 2 Year/$26 Million

With the free agency departures of Taijuan Walker (Phillies) and Chris Bassitt (Blue Jays), Quintana makes for an efficient fit, deepening a Mets pitching staff that finished top 10 in ERA (7th: 3.57) and strikeouts (1st: 1,565) last season. The 33-year-old left-hander adds a dire blend in a rotation dominated by right handers Verlander, Scherzer, Senga, and Carlos Carrasco (Barquisimeto, Venezuela). 

Beginning the season with the Pirates, then acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals before the August 1st trade deadline, Quintana excelled remarkably on the bump in 2022 — a 6-7 record in 32 starts with a 2.93 ERA and an opponent batting average of .246. He is currently one of seven MLB players from Columbia under contract with an MLB franchise for 2023. 

David Robertson Provides Bullpen Reinforcement – 1 Year, $10 Million

Robertson, a legitimate battle-tested reliever, entering his 15th season in the pros, will fuse as a prolific set-up man for closer Edwin Díaz, who the Mets signed during the opening of free agency. 

The 37-year-old right-hander is coming off a superb 2022 with the Cubs and Phillies recording 81 strikeouts in 63.2 innings and can handle the pressure of October. Robertson has appeared in eight separate postseasons, owning a 2.48 career ERA in 45.1 innings with 53 Ks. 

Constantly spending, enhancing their roster in all necessary categories, and with 63 days remaining till Spring Training, expect even more moves to be made. For sure, a ‘New York Spending Groove’ as Steve Cohens’ New York Mets are fully committed to the ‘win now’ methodology in both the short and long term.

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Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports

Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994

Email: RobertRiz994@gmail.com

Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and cohost Robert Rizzo.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.

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