While the end of their 2022 season was disappointing and a huge letdown, the Mets have come a long way in just two years as an organization. They went from a 77-85 club in 2021 to a 101-61 team under the tutelage of manager Buck Showalter. New York has a crucial winter ahead, and the only choice to stay competitive right now is to spend a lot of money.
But how should they do it? Boston Red Sox legend and National Baseball Hall of Famer, David Ortiz, had some thoughts about it while speaking to Pat Ragazzo of Sports Illustrated.
Papi said the Mets are “not too far away” and “on the right track”. Before New York does anything else this winter, though, Ortiz thinks re-signing Jacob deGrom is the top priority. What about after that? This is where the Aaron Judge free agency stuff comes in and gets interesting, folks.
We’ve seen past reports of the Mets potentially kicking the tires on signing Judge, even if it seems unlikely. Papi added fuel to the fire by saying the new single-season AL home run record holder would be a perfect fit for the Mets.
But after rejecting a seven-year, $213.5 million extension from the Yankees last spring, what could the outfielder fetch in the open market? Ortiz stated that Judge should be the highest-paid player in baseball, and the Mets should offer him $50 million per season for five or six years.
In case you don’t want to do that math, this would either be a $250 million or $300 million investment for owner Steve Cohen into the Mets’ lineup.
The one thing Ortiz pointed out about the length of Judge’s next contract is he wouldn’t make it too long because of his previous injury history. We’ve also seen many times in the past that contracts 8-10 years in length for players past the age of 30 rarely work out well.
You know, like Albert Pujols getting a 10-year deal from the Los Angeles Angels entering his age-32 campaign. Or, how the Tigers awarded Miguel Cabrera an eight-year extension starting in his age-33 season. Those are just two recent examples.
This seems to be the consensus on the length of Judge’s next contract. The 2023 season will be the outfielder’s age-31 campaign. With the current economic dynamic of today’s game, one can imagine that a shorter-term deal with a high annual average value — like the one Papi is suggesting — is a more probable outcome.
That’s what will make Judge’s trip to free agency so interesting, though. Regardless of how genuine it’ll be, you know the Mets will be interested. The San Francisco Giants are ready to spend money, and the Yankees should be doing everything possible to keep their outfielder in pinstripes.
But if it were up to Papi, Judge would move across town.