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Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets are the talk of MLB’s offseason so far. Before Steve Cohen took over as team owner, it was usually for the wrong reasons. Not anymore.

New York has spent just shy of $360 million since Jacob deGrom decided to take his talents to Arlington and play for the Texas Rangers. If we add in the record five-year, $102 million deal they agreed to with Edwin Diaz at the outset of free agency, the Mets have committed close to $500 million on player contracts. And it’s still not Christmas yet.

The club’s most recent agreement is with starting pitcher Kodai Senga for five years and $75 million. This addition puts New York’s projected payroll at unprecedented levels. They were already at the top of the league regarding spending in 2023 before adding Senga and Brandon Nimmo.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan estimates that the Mets’ competitive-balance-tax payroll is sitting at $345 million, which would be a new record. Based on his calculations, Cohen is currently on the hook for a tax-penalty bill of $76.2 million.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. How could this be a masterclass in payroll management? All they’re doing is spending money! That’s true, but the manner in which they’re doing it is actually quite brilliant. Let’s look at each of these contracts to break down how this is true.

Edwin Diaz. The Mets brought back the best closer on the open market on a record deal. Because there’s some deferred money included, Diaz’s official annual average value (AAV) is $18.6 million. He has a full no-trade clause for the next three seasons but can opt out prior to 2026.

Justin Verlander. New York and the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner agreed to a monster two-year, $86.6 million deal at the start of the Winter Meetings. A third year could be in play as an option. It becomes a player option if he throws 140 innings in 2024.

David Robertson. The Mets needed to give Diaz some help in the bullpen. Part of that was done by trading for Brooks Raley. Another part was signing D-Rob to a one-year, $10 million deal.

Jose Quintana. Similar to the bullpen, New York’s rotation needed more arms. They nabbed a quality and durable one in Quintana for just two years and $26 million.

Kodai Senga. The latest big splash for the Amazins will cost them $75 million over five years. Like some others here, there is a full no-trade clause. And like some others, Senga has player opt-outs if he wants to test the market. He’ll be under contract from 2023 to 2025 and has player options in 2026 and 2027.

Brandon Nimmo. This is the one Mets contract within this group that’s different than the rest. Nimmo will be with New York for the next eight seasons, earning $162 million. He’ll also have a full no-trade clause.

Do you see the trend here? Let’s add in Max Scherzer’s deal from last winter, too. He’s under contract for 2023 and has a player option decision to make for 2024. The Mets are essentially loading up for their competitive window over the next three seasons.

If we fast-forward to 2026, the only ones who could potentially still be on the roster are Senga, Diaz, and Nimmo. And depending on how things go during this period, it may just be Nimmo if Senga and Diaz want to trigger an opt-out and re-enter free agency. Even if they don’t, their collective AAV would be $53.8 million. I think that’s a financial situation Cohen could manage if necessary.

I’m excited as the next person to see Nimmo stick with the Mets for what could be the remainder of his career. However, the most common criticism of his deal is that the term is way too long (and it’s too much money, but based on his market, he was getting that much regardless). The biggest reason behind the outfielder getting an eight-year deal was likely to lower his AAV for payroll purposes.

Is it unlikely that Nimmo’s production will equal his $20.2 million salary in 2030 as a 37-year-old? Yes, but will the Mets be able to deal with it since it’s “only” $20 million? Also yes.

This unprecedented spending is accomplishing two goals for New York. After one of the most successful regular-season performances in franchise history, they’re reloading to contend for the postseason again. And not just in 2023, but also in 2024 and 2025. This allows the franchise an opportunity to build up depth in its minor-league system. Soon enough, Cohen’s vision of becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers of the East could come true.

And even if it doesn’t, he’ll find a way to keep his club competitive. He’s shown that this winter, and it won’t change anytime soon.

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.