steve cohen mets
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When it comes to Steve Cohen and his current tenure as Mets owner, a few things are true. He’s helped change the club’s reputation from a laughingstock to a serious postseason contender. Queens has also become a desirable location for top free agents. And last, but most certainly not least, he’s willing to spend what it takes to put a winner on the field.

All of these things make him a hero among Mets fans. It also puts a target on his back as a villain for those annoyed by what he’s doing. And what’s most annoying for some MLB owners is how much money he’s spent on player talent the last couple of winters. Most notably, this offseason has included a total of $500 million committed to players.

The Mets’ $299.8 million payroll at the end of 2022 set a new MLB record. All they did to follow that up is put together a team with a projected Opening Day payroll of $369.9 million. Cohen talked about what other owners and people in baseball think about his spending in a recent one-on-one interview with ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Based on the fact that he keeps spending, many of us could assume Cohen doesn’t care about what others think about his actions. The below quotes confirm that suspicion:

I’ve heard what everyone else has heard: that they’re not happy with me. I hear things from people who are maybe more neutral — that they’re taking a lot of heat from their fans. I kind of look at that like, you’re looking at the wrong person. They’re putting it on me. Maybe they need to look more at themselves.

I’m not responsible for how other teams run their clubs. I’m really not. That’s not my job. And there are disparities in baseball. We know that to be true. I’m following the rules. They set the rules down, I’m following them.

Essentially, Cohen just told his fellow owners to get over it because he’s not changing the way he’s doing business.

There was a thought that setting a fourth luxury-tax penalty at $293 million would deter “crazy” spending from some of MLB’s big-market teams. That hasn’t been the case with Cohen, who is intent on keeping his promise to the fans of putting a championship-caliber team on the diamond at Citi Field.

In addition to a $370 million payroll, the Mets are due to pay a luxury tax penalty of $98.6 million. So, that makes the overall outlay of expenditures directly related to player talent nearly $500 million for 2023.

Cohen mentioned to Passan that he’d eventually like to get the payroll below those penalty levels. Does it bother him right now, though? You be the judge of that:

I didn’t think it was that big a deal. I was already going to be in a big bracket anyway, no question. So it’s like the government raising taxes. You’re already in a high bracket. What I think about is making income. If I make income, it solves problems. It’d be great to get the payroll to the point where I don’t have to pay tax anymore. That’s the goal. If we do our job and develop a farm system and get a nice, sustainable pipeline going, we should be able to accomplish that.

Yea, I don’t think he cares very much. This is a dude who willingly spent nearly $150 million on a piece of art. Will a simple tax on payroll stop him from acquiring the players he thinks is necessary to win a World Series? Not quite.

Throughout this winter, we mostly assumed Cohen didn’t care what others thought of his actions. This just confirms as such. It’s not like he’s doing anything against the rules. Sure, his team’s payroll is over the limit, but he’s not evading the tax he’ll have to pay.

As he said himself, owners who object to his spending need to look more at themselves instead of blaming him.

Matt Musico can be reached at 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.