Before the Mets lost to the Brewers on Wednesday night, all eyes were on Steve Cohen at Citi Field. He finally publicly — and directly — addressed his team’s struggles during the 2023 season.
And no, he didn’t fire anybody. In fact, he said the opposite for both general manager Billy Eppler and field manager Buck Showalter:
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) June 28, 2023
There weren’t many surprises from Cohen during this session.
What’s happened so far this year in Queens is not what they expected, and everyone is disappointed/frustrated by it. There’s still time before the trade deadline to get on a run and change the narrative about this team. But then again, Cohen acknowledged the opposite end of the spectrum, and how they may need to look at other scenarios.
He also expressed his desire to eventually hire a President of Baseball Operations. That’s something the Mets have been trying to do since Cohen took over in November 2020. The hedge fund billionaire said he’s taking his time because he’s waiting for the right person and doesn’t want a “rookie” to do this job. If we read between the lines, one would have to assume he’ll go after former Brewers general manager David Stearns this winter once he becomes a free agent.
Cohen didn’t come with any prepared remarks for this presser. He just sat down and waited for the questions to come, which he took for about 30 minutes. There was one specific comment he made that has me once again feeling grateful he’s the Mets’ owner. And it had to do with rebuilding the farm system.
Cohen is willing to use his money to bridge the gap until New York has a farm system full of talent, and more specifically, top pitching prospects. His hope is to get the payroll down in the coming years because the Mets will have a steady stream of young, team-controlled players that can contribute at the big-league level. You know, like the Dodgers, Rays, and Astros.
Rebuilding a farm system takes time. That’s why they say patience is a virtue. But, we can already see how Cohen operates when it comes to striving toward this goal. Does he want to win right now and win consistently? Well, yes — he wouldn’t have spent $350-plus million on player salaries this year if he didn’t.
But if the Mets do become sellers at the deadline, they’ll still try to find a way to propel the franchise forward when it comes to the long-term plan. As Ryan Finkelstein of Just Baseball mentioned, the Mets traded James McCann to the Orioles last winter and are paying $19 million of the $24 million he’s owned in 2023-24 just to clear a spot for Omar Narvaez. And outside of the league minimum, New York is paying all of Eduardo Escobar’s remaining contract just so they could get to two pitching prospects they wanted from the Angels.
If the Mets do have some kind of sell-off, that’s a tactic they will probably continue doing. Why? Well, it’s simple — Cohen already views that money as spent, so why not use it to help restock the farm system faster? Here’s part of the summary from Finkelstein:
Cohen described the contracts on his books as, “a sunk cost” in his mind, as he is not looking to reimburse himself on money he has already allocated towards payroll. If eating salaries means the Mets can get better prospects and speed up the rebuild of their farm system, he is all in.
So, there you have it, folks. Would it have been nice to see some action from Cohen yesterday? Yes, but we already knew that wasn’t going to happen. While there are no changes happening right on the coaching staff or in the front office, Cohen isn’t just sitting around and doing nothing.
They’re hoping the players can turn things around. But if they can’t and this season ends up being a failure, then they’ll do whatever they can to turn it into a positive. There aren’t many team owners willing to send truckloads of money with players as part of a sell-off after a disappointing half-season. But then again, Steve Cohen isn’t your average pro sports team owner.