In many ways, the 2022 season was a banner year for the Mets and team owner Steve Cohen. After all, the club’s 101 wins were its second-most ever and most since 1986. But still, the ultimate goal wasn’t achieved, which was a World Series title.
Like every other 100-win team in the National League, New York collected just one postseason win on its way to getting eliminated. The offseason has started much earlier than anticipated, and boy, it’s going to be an important one for the Amazins.
They have several big contributors from the 2022 team that will be hitting free agency once the World Series is over. It appears general manager Billy Eppler and his front office are interested in re-signing at least a few of them, including Edwin Diaz and Jacob deGrom.
Do you know what all this equals? Spending lots of money. Thankfully for the Mets, Cohen has plenty and is fine with continuing to flex his financial muscles to keep the team competitive.
It’s good that Cohen — baseball’s richest owner with a net worth of $17.5 billion — is ready to open up his checkbook to help get the Mets back to October. Why? Well, there’s really no other choice.
The Mets were baseball’s oldest team in 2022, with an average age of 30.68 years old. This happened partially because virtually all of New York’s moves from last winter were for proven veteran players.
Their crown jewel move was for 38-year-old Max Scherzer. He was joined by Starling Marte (33 at the time of his signing), Mark Canha (33), and Eduardo Escobar (33). Once the lockout was over, New York then added Chris Bassitt (33) via trade.
This is obviously not time for the Mets to try and retool by getting younger. That will happen naturally with the graduation of some top prospects, like Brett Baty, Francisco Alvarez, and Mark Vientos. But let’s not forget Cohen said he’d be “slightly disappointed” if the Mets weren’t hoisting a World Series trophy within 3-5 years of him taking over during his introductory press conference.
The 2023 season will be Year 3 with Cohen in charge, so New York is definitely working up against a self-imposed deadline. This organization’s goal is to eventually become like the Dodgers — a perennial contender with a deep farm system and plenty of money to use when it’s needed. They’re already on their way to doing that, and the Mets are following Los Angeles’ playbook.
New York’s farm system got a boost thanks to reeling in top-tier talent during the first-year player draft this past summer. But still, toward the end of August, MLB Pipeline ranked them with the 14th-best farm system in baseball. There’s talent that can help the big-league club in the near future, but their system certainly isn’t as deep as what the Dodgers boast (they ranked second).
Without that and a short runway as the Amazins hope to become perennial contenders, there are only a couple of options. They need to use their biggest strength — money — to supplement the roster, whether it’s via free agency or taking on salary via trades. If we look back at the Dodgers’ actions when new ownership took over in 2012, this is exactly the kind of thing they did.
Current ownership in L.A. entered its first full season in control of the Dodgers in 2013. Their Opening Day payroll was $239 million, which was more than $100 million higher than the year prior. Everyone seems worried about how much money Cohen will spend on the Mets’ roster, but it’s the Dodgers who paved the way for this path to consistent contention.
While the front office and player development departments rebuilt the Dodgers from the ground up, they invested in big-league talent by having baseball’s largest payroll. It’s only brought them one championship so far, but they’ve never completed a full year in charge without the Dodgers in the playoffs.
That’s the kind of results the Mets want. It’d obviously be disappointing if New York reached the playoffs in 10 consecutive years and only came away with one World Series title. But heck, I’d rather see them qualify for the postseason annually and have a chance at becoming champions instead of watching the year finish after Game 162.
The Mets have had just two instances where they’ve reached the playoffs in consecutive years. It happened in 1999 and 2000, as well as in 2015 and 2016. That’s one of the biggest problems when looking at Mets history — they more or less make the playoffs once a decade.
Cohen, a lifelong Mets fan, knows that. He’s out to change this and is ready to do whatever is necessary to make it happen. Right now, that means pumping a lot of money into the big-league roster.
He’s ready to do that. This is good because if he wants his team to contend next year, there isn’t much of a choice.