Depending on how you view the Mets’ 2023 season, some of you may have thought it was over before it started with the injury to Edwin Diaz in the World Baseball Classic. Seeing how things have unfolded since then, it’s certainly a valid argument. But at least Pete Alonso is still around and on track for another season of 40-plus homers, right? Right?!
Well, it’s possible both those guys may not be around much longer, according to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. Here’s part of what he said about the Mets in his Sunday Notebook:
No one has changed direction more abruptly in baseball history than the New York Mets.
One minute, they’re spending a record $500 million in payroll and luxury taxes to buy a World Series.
The next, they’re spending a record $156.5 million in money for their players to simply go away.
Absurd, but true.
Their dead money actually exceeds the entire payroll of 15 teams in MLB.
Next up, All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso, who was on the trade block last week, could be traded with All-Star closer Edwin Diaz possibly joining him once he proves he’s healthy.
Forget Shohei Ohtani. Forget the World Series. For now, it’s all about prospects.
I’m not going to lie. When I saw this pop up on my screen, my jaw dropped a little bit. But then I remembered the source: #Bob. While Nightengale has broken quite a few stories, he also talks in absolutes a little more than he should.
As New York was in the midst of its trade-deadline sell-off, Nightengale said this:
The #Mets are wiping the financial ledger as clean as possible for David Stearns, who's expected to be hired as president of baseball operations this winter.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 1, 2023
Let us remind you there’s absolutely nothing definitive regarding the Mets and David Stearns at the moment. (Although, it does seem like it’s destined to happen.)
And then he said this during New York’s recent 0-6 road trip:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 5, 2023
Nightengale is obviously referencing the comments Max Scherzer made about his meeting with Mets brass before getting traded to the Rangers. But, as Bob usually does, he’s taking this all the way to the other end of the spectrum.
Was it a significant pivot at the trade deadline? You bet. Was it really a firesale? No, it wasn’t. A firesale would’ve included guys who are under team control beyond 2024. You’d have to imagine general manager Billy Eppler listened to anything that came his way. But still, the price for any players in that category was probably ridiculously steep. Even though Alonso was apparently available, nothing got serious because their price for him was reportedly very high.
In the aftermath of the sell-off, Steve and Alex Cohen sent a letter to Mets season-ticket holders to discuss the state of the organization. When looking forward to 2024, they named both Alonso and Edwin Diaz as part of their core.
not sure if this was just sent to season ticket members, but you don’t see other owners sending out apology emails for a disappointing season. there is nobody doing it like steve and alex cohen
(also note that pete alonso is mentioned as part of the core for the 2024 season) pic.twitter.com/LvPih02X9K
— olivia (@oliviapipia) August 4, 2023
Regardless of what Scherzer recounted from his conversation with Cohen and Eppler, the Mets aren’t going to go through an Orioles-style rebuild with an aim toward 2026. The farm system will hopefully be at a point where it can consistently help the big-league club by then, but they’ll still put a competitive team on the field by supplementing through free agency.
And no, this probably means no Shohei Ohtani. They probably weren’t going to land him anyways. Just because they’re not going to give $30-40 million per year to players in free agency doesn’t mean they’re not trying to win. As we saw this year, doing that doesn’t guarantee success.
This is just another example of the media finding any way possible to criticize the Mets. When they spend a bunch of money, they get criticized. And when they admit it didn’t work and do something else, they get criticized for that, too.
Steve Cohen is a competitive dude. There’s no way the Mets will field a team that doesn’t at least have a chance to be competitive in 2024 and 2025. He said that himself while in Kansas City.
So, yea — let’s take what Nightengale said with a huge grain of salt. If either Alonso or Diaz (or both) aren’t in Queens next year and beyond, I’ll have to see it to believe it.