Mets, Yankees Détente Isn’t Collusion
Collusion has been a very real thing in baseball history. That was no more apparent than when Andre Dawson signed a blank contract with the Chicago Cubs because no one would offer him a contract.
Ultimately, the Hall of Famer Bud Selig collusion efforts led to MLB paying $102.5 million to the player’s union. We’ve subsequently seen evidence of collusion, but the matter has not been subsequently taken to arbitration.
That brings us to the right now with Aaron Judge’s free agency.
As reported by The Athletic, MLB is requesting records between the New York Mets and New York Yankees regarding Judge. Specifically, they want communications between Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner.
This goes back to a report saying how both teams “enjoy a mutually respectful relationship, and do not expect to upend that with a high-profile bidding war.” If you’ve been around New York baseball since free agency began, you knew this was going to be the case.
Typically speaking, the Mets and Yankees don’t pursue each other’s free agent players. That goes double for the higher profile players. Really, when you think about it, the Mets and Yankees never get into a bidding war over a player.
That’s not to say players don’t switch teams. We know Curtis Granderson signed with the Mets after four years in the Bronx. Pedro Feliciano signed with the Yankees after his second stint with the Mets.
What was notable about both players is their tenures with their previous team ended. To put it another way, the franchise was not pursuing their own player in free agency.
That may also explain the respective franchises historical obsession with their respective high profile players towards the end of their careers.
We’ve seen the Yankees sign players like Carlos Beltrán, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry. The Mets made trades made trades to obtain El Duque and Robinson Canó in addition to signing players like Willie Randolph.
This just doesn’t happen when these players initially hit free agency and their team wants to keep that player. Certainly, a large part of that was the Wilpons unwillingness (followed by their inability) to spend.
As we look to this offseason, both Judge and Jacob deGrom are free agents. These are franchise defining players. They are future Hall of Famers whose numbers will be retired by their respective teams.
They also solve problems for both teams. It’s just going to come at exorbitant salaries. Even with the money both teams have, they likely will not be able to sign both.
That’s part of the reason there is a détente between these franchises.
These two teams could be running up the cost on the respective players. Eventually, one is going to be signed by someone. That doesn’t mean the other will get signed.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument, the Mets sign Judge. Let’s also assume, this puts them out of the deGrom market.
We’ve heard rumors deGrom is looking for money similar to Max Scherzer. Let’s say the Mets were in that neighborhood before signing Judge and breaking off negotiations.
It’s entirely possible the Yankees were never going to that point. That leaves them out on deGrom, and we’ve already heard other teams balking at what deGrom wants. In the end, this means deGrom eventually signs for less than what he would’ve had this détente not existed.
The simple fact is this détente is necessary for the franchises and players. It’s not driving down player salaries. It’s keeping them all high. It’s allowing Judge and deGrom get the highest possible contract they could receive.
Both the Mets and Yankees now they have an uneasy relationship. They’re rivals who share a city, but they need one another. They’re allies when it comes to revenue sharing and the CBT, and they both know they both do better financially when both teams are thriving.
So, the Mets and Yankees have this unwritten détente which has served New York baseball well for 30+ years. We will now soon find out if this unwritten détente is also unspoken.