Juan Lagares New York Mets
(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

A good deal of print devoted to the New York Mets over the last several days points to center fielder Juan Lagares being thrust out there as trade bait. But whether he stays or goes, the Mets will only be putting a finger in the dike because it’s still all about payroll.

I’m still trying to let it sink in, but it looks like it’s true. The Mets will be cutting payroll by around $20 million before the 2018 season begins. Similar to last season, this will place the franchise in the middle of the 30-team pack of 40-man roster payrolls among major league teams.

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Mets have been all over the place when it comes to team payroll. From 2003 to 2009, the team ranked no lower than fourth and as high as second in payroll. From 2012 to the present, the decline in payroll has been steady and sometimes, almost drastic.

In 2014, for instance, only nine major league teams had a payroll lower than the Mets, who reached that nadir spending just $85 million on their players. This, in comparison to small-market teams like the Seattle Mariners ($109 million), Kansas City Royals ($98 million), and the Baltimore Orioles ($112 million) in the same year.

Now, we know that money can’t buy you, love. But neither can Juan Lagares. So when Jon Heyman reports that “has become a hot topic this offseason while the National League East ball club is now taking calls on the 28-year-old, a source close to the situation has informed FanRag Sports,” once again, you have to scratch your head in trying to figure out what the Mets are thinking.

First of all, Lagares is due to make $6.5 million in 2018, and that goes up to $9 million in 2019. So who are the Mets kidding? This is yet another salary dump by the team that is camouflaged as a move to improve the team.

And second, who do they think is going to be interested in an outfielder with a lifetime batting average of .257 and only 20 home runs spread over five seasons? Add to that the fact Lagares spends almost as much time on the DL than on the playing field, and what are the Mets offering to another team?

Moreover, what do they expect to get in return for Lagares? Please.

At this point, the Mets would do well just to shut up, keeping these “well-placed sources” in tow. The Mets are stuck, and their fans know they are stuck, with or without Lagares. So, what’s the point of putting this stuff out there when it’s all smoke and mirrors?

The Mets will rise or fall with their starting pitching this season. So be it.

The franchise exists in a bowlful of financial chaos with a general manager who has seen better days. It’s not a crime. Teams go through times like this. The Mets were in a World Series three seasons ago.

They can do it again. Just not this way.

A fan of the Yankees for more than a half-century, the sport of baseball and writing about it is my passion. Formerly a staff writer for Empire Writes Back, Call To The Pen, and Yanks Go Yard, this opportunity with Elite Sports NY is what I have been looking for. I also have my own website titled Reflections On New York Baseball. My day job is teaching inmates at a New York State prison. Happily married with five grandchildren. Living in Catskill, New York.