starling marte mets
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Cohen’s first year as Mets owner was quite the roller coaster ride. But for the most part, the second half was just a consistent nosedive. You knew change was on the horizon in Queens, but it came at an unexpected time.

New York spent more than 100 days in first place during the 2021 season. Despite that, a second-half tailspin resulted in them finishing 77-85. It was the first time in MLB history a team had ever done that. Luis Rojas was out as manager and the roster was bound to see a good bit of turnover.

The Mets finally had a general manager again once Billy Eppler was officially hired on November 15th. He immediately got to work with a lockout looming because of the soon-to-be-expired Collective Bargaining Agreement.

One of the first potential moves was a reunion with left-handed starting pitcher and Long Island native, Steven Matz. The Mets traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays prior to 2021. The southpaw responded by posting a 2.8 fWAR with a 14-7 record and a 3.82 ERA in 150.2 innings.

Instead of coming back home, Matz and his reps opted for a four-year, $44 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. This began one of the most expensive spending sprees in Mets history. First, Cohen tweeted about his unhappiness with how things went down the day before Thanksgiving:

Of course, this happened a little over a week after Noah Syndergaard declined the Mets’ qualifying offer to sign with the Los Angeles Angels for one year and $20 million. After letting his frustrations out the day prior, Cohen took to Twitter to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Maybe he was feeling extra happy because he knew what Eppler was working on.

Once Turkey Day is in the rearview mirror, the next big thing on the MLB offseason calendar is the Winter Meetings. But they weren’t set to start until December 6th, and with everyone still eating leftovers and tackling fellow shoppers for discounted TVs, not many were expecting Hot Stove news on Black Friday.

But that’s exactly when the Mets started changing the perception and expectations for 2022.

The first agreement to hit the interwebs was with Eduardo Escobar for two years and $20 million. MLB insider Jon Heyman was the first person to break the news:

As we can see, Heyman broke this news at 5:21 pm EST. New York immediately moved on to its next target: outfielder Mark Canha.

At 8:18 pm EST, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported the Mets and Canha were close to an agreement. Just four minutes later, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the deal was agreed upon.

Coming to two agreements in the span of three hours to help the offense was great to see. That was enough excitement for one night, too. Or so we thought — the biggest fish to catch was still left in Starling Marte. It was Heyman again reporting at 11:47 pm EST that Marte would be a Met pending a physical:

Marte’s $78 million contract is one of the richest in Mets history, and this seven-hour span included a lot of money getting dished out by New York. In less than half a day — and a day that most people took off for the holiday — the Mets committed $124.5 million to three players.

Of course, Eppler and Co. weren’t done here, even if he finally put his phone down for the night. The Mets more than doubled that number by also signing Max Scherzer to a $130 million contract a few days later.

We knew New York wouldn’t be the same old Mets with Cohen in charge. That was already evidenced by signing Francisco Lindor to a $341 million extension before the 2021 season. However, it was this afternoon/evening on Black Friday that really threw things into overdrive. These players were all positive contributors and a big reason why the Mets posted one of their most successful regular-season performances in franchise history.

What kind of encore are we going to get after that? New York will likely be spending big again this winter, and mostly because that’s the only choice if they want to legitimately compete for a World Series. Will they make some moves on Black Friday again?

We’ve seen that anything can happen at any moment with the Amazins. While it’s unlikely to happen in this same fashion, we have to now keep our heads on a swivel. Just in case.

Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.