Historically Zobrist Goes Elsewhere
This isn’t a criticism of Sandy Alderson and his staff. This isn’t an issue of this front office being stingy or refusing to go the extra mile to get the player. It’s just that historically the Mets typically do not outbid teams when it comes to the big free agent.
That’s not to say the Mets don’t sign free agents. Obviously, they do. They’ve also overspent and spent big money on some free agents. It’s just that they don’t typically win bidding wars. They especially don’t do so when a big market team is also bidding on the same player. My personal feelings aside, I just don’t see how the Mets outbid everyone for Ben Zobrist. Here are the instances where the Wilpon led Mets outbid everyone for a high priced player:
In 2009, the Mets signed Jason Bay. In some ways it could be interpreted as the Mets won a bidding war and in others it could be seen as the Red Sox moved on to other players.
Fact is the Red Sox essentially had a four year $60 million contract offer, which may or may not have been pulled due to medical concerns. You can never fully trust Boston’s statements when a player leaves. The fact is the Mets had to offer $6 million extra to bring Bay to New York. The fact also remains the Mets went after Bay instead of going after the much better and much more expensive Matt Holliday.
This isn’t about how Bay fared with the Mets as no one could have reasonable predicted what happened next. This is about the Mets outbidding the Red Sox for a player only after deciding to not even get involved in the bidding for the more expensive, better player.
The Carlos Beltran story is an interesting one. Like Bay, it was also a move made under the Omar Minaya regime.
What’s most interesting about this was the Yankees never got involved in the bidding despite Beltran all but begging them to offer him a contract. Furthermore, the Astros had a limited window to negotiate with Beltran. Under the old free agency rules, the Astros only had until January 7th to re-sign him. If they didn’t, they were barred from re-signing him until May 1st.
The Mets went above and beyond then in Minaya’s first year as GM. The Mets signed Beltran to a then whopping seven year $119 million contract. It was a real power move that the Mets haven’t typically been the Mets strength. There was one other move in 2005 that was uncharacteristic.
Like Bay, the Mets were able to outbid the Red Sox for Pedro Martinez because the Red Sox drew a line in the sand in a player they knew/suspected had questionable medicals. Unlike Bay, the Mets clearly outbid the Red Sox.
The Red Sox thought they had Pedro re-signed giving him the extra year he wanted. The Mets just gave that extra year and money no one thought Pedro could/should get. Like Beltran, this was part of Minaya’s reshaping of the Mets. It’s truly interesting the major deals happened in 2005 when Minaya took over the team. In some ways, it makes you question how much the Madoff Ponzi fallout affected the Mets.
Yes, it clearly limited payroll. However, after 2005, the Mets never truly went the extra mile in seeking to acquire the top free agent on the market. They were initially rebuffed by Carlos Delgado (until he was later obtained via trade). They did give a huge contract to Johan Santana in the wake of the 2007 collapse. However, that was part of a trade and not part of a free agent bidding process.
So while the Mets have at times spent money pre-Madoff, it appears the team does not usually win these free agent bidding contests. Additionally, after 2005, the team has typicall backed off the top free agent on the market that would/could fulfill a need like Jason Heyward.
In any event, it appears if history repeats itself here, the Mets will not get Zobrist. This may or may not be due to the budget. It may due more to an organizational philosophy that was in place before Sandy Alderson ever became the GM.