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Angry Money Talks

We should send some Courvoisier to Rob Martin’s home.

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If Steven Cohen signed Max Scherzer because he had lingering anger about the Steven Matz situation, then let’s have an agent piss him off once a week after the lockout ends.

There are so many thoughts and it’s hard to boil them all down to a 500 or so word blog, but I’ll try anyway.

First off: The Mets get full credit for going all in. This is the Steve Cohen we expected last season, and now that we have it, I’m not sure any of us know what to do with ourselves. I hate using media friendly terms like “sending a message”, because I don’t think anyone performs on a grand stage to “send messages”. But the Max Scherzer signing does, in fact, send a message to the rest of baseball that the Mets are players. Even if it doesn’t work out, the Mets are no longer a team that takes half-measures to fix their problems. They signed four free agents in the last four days, which happen to be on a holiday weekend where most people were in turkey coma. Not Cohen, and not Billy Eppler, that’s for damn sure.

And I hate to bring this up, but it might not work out. There’s so many reasons why this won’t work, most of which center around the $43 million AAV and the fact that Scherzer is 37 years old and had a dead arm in the playoffs last year. It’s frightening. But this is the kind of go-for-it move that the Mets would have never made even two, three seasons ago. Eduardo Escobar would have been “the” off-season if this was 2019. This offseason? Not only has everyone forgotten about him already, but everyone has already forgotten that we also got the best free agent center fielder on the market in Starling Marte. Those two players, along with Mark Canha, weren’t brought here in exchange for large chunks of the farm system either. The players simply cost money. No prospects, no draft picks. The farm system will now have a chance to regenerate a little bit. With five high picks coming up in 2022, along with prospects like Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, Ronny Mauricio and Matt Allan, they have a good starting point to regenerate from.

This is exactly what the Dodgers did when the Magic Johnson consortium bought the team. They ballooned the payroll up to $300 million while the farm system bore the fruit of players like Alex Verdugo (who got them Mookie Betts), Gavin Lux, and Jose Urias. Hell, it took the Dodgers more than five years to finally get that World Series, but they got it, and nobody talks about the fact that their payroll is down to a less ridiculous level than it was in the early days of their new ownership. So if the Mets don’t win the World Series in three years, I still wouldn’t necessarily call the moves a failure. It just means that finally the Mets have an owner who is doing whatever he can to put the roster in a position where they can win the World Series instead of not even having a chance to do it when spring training starts.

And here’s the other thing that I’m not sure anybody is thinking about: Yes, the money is gargantuan, but the fact that it’s only a three year deal is key. I had somebody in my social media mentions say to me that he thought the Mets would get better mileage if they took that money (money that came from the likes of Matz and Noah Syndergaard turning them down, in part) and spread it around a bit to, say, Marcus Stroman and Alex Wood. It’s a fair argument. But there are two things to consider. First off, Stroman and Wood might not want to come to New York, and it’s the Mets’ job to gauge that interest. If either of them wanted to be here, especially in Stroman’s case since he has spent the last two and a half seasons here, then they would have signed here already. But Stroman is too enamored with the free agency process to make a commitment this early. That’s not a knock, as players get to do this once and only once and should take all the time they need to do it. But from the outside looking in, I always got the impression that Stroman wasn’t coming back, simply because he was very honest about wanting to explore all of his options to the point of looking forward to it. And as for Alex Wood, he might want to stay on the west coast much like we thought Scherzer would, and the Mets probably got that impression early on.

The second thing, and this is the part I don’t think anybody has caught on to yet: It’s a three year deal. Unless something crazy happens and he Bobby Bonilla’s us into a deferred payment plan, Scherzer’s money will be off the books by 2025, whereas Stroman, and perhaps Wood, would seek longer term deals that would extend to 2025 and beyond. Now with that in mind, and also keeping in mind that the Mets signed Mark Canha to play right field instead of a long term contract for Michael Conforto, guess who becomes a free agent in 2025 …

That’s right. Juan Soto is a free agent in 2025.

Now, this is tin-foil hat stuff, and it’s the same kind of stuff I yelled at everyone about when everybody went crazy about a Juan Soto Instagram post where everyone assumed that he was going to sign with the Mets in 2025 because he happened to be in Citi Field in 2021. Now, by no means am I saying that Juan Soto is going to be a Met in 2025. And if he does, it doesn’t mean that Instagram post was relevant. But if you’re looking for a reason why three years of future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer at a ridiculous rate for his age 37-39 seasons makes more sense than five years of Marcus Stroman and maybe 3-4 of Alex Wood? That’s why. And even if I’m way off base with this, isn’t it nice to know that having money gives you the option to consider those type of possibilities? And it’s not like the Mets would be taking a step back the next three years hoping that Juan Soto comes here. They’re spending the next three seasons with Max Scherzer as a number two starter.

The real problem might come if Jacob deGrom looks at Scherzer’s contract and decides “hey, I want that money too”, and opts out of his contract. But seeing what the Mets did to surround him with talent this season would make him more willing to re-sign with the Mets. And guess what: They have an owner that is willing to find some extra millions in his dry cleaning to placate him.

The other thing I want to bring up his this: credit to Max Scherzer and Scott Boras for being open to coming here. I didn’t think Scherzer would take Cohen’s money. And yes, I was worried that this was a ploy to drive up the price elsewhere. But even after Scherzer nixed a trade to the Mets last July, he still saw that there was value in giving the cauldron of New York a try. Despite everybody wanting to cram the term “money talks” down our throats, there are always other factors for athletes to consider where they decide where they want to make their living. Scherzer could have done what was easy and expected. He could have played a card that was loyal to the Nationals and not chosen a team that would battle them too hard. But he chose to try to slay the beast of narrative and come to Flushing. He didn’t have to. Yes, Cohen’s money enticed him, but he made the decision to give the team without a manager and the aura of dysfunction a try. That deserves your love and admiration, even if his arm will be a bloody stub at the end of the contract. Money may not always talk, but angry money screams and yells. Max Scherzer is in his element when there’s yelling involved.

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