Steve Cohen has set out to stretch the financial boundaries of Major League by doing all he can do to help the New York Mets win. In successive offseasons, he has signed a future Hall of Fame pitcher still near the top of his game.
The Mets are a far cry from the Wilpon era. Instead of trying to sell replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman (despite both pitchers being in the same rotation), there is a healthy and fun debate whether Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander should be the Mets Opening Day starter.
This win-now attitude has infected the Mets and their fanbase. It is also something we are seeing with the New York Rangers.
Last year at the trading deadline, Chris Drury made a series of inspired moves. They were able to add Justin Braun, Andrew Copp, Tyler Motte, and Frank Vatrano. The end result was a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. After going up 2-0 in the series, they were within a blown lead of going to the Finals.
Drury would again not be deterred. He went out and got Motte back, who was a popular addition last season most Rangers fans were hoping would return. Then, he made a master stroke to surprisingly add Vladimir Tarasenko. While exciting, there was some mild disappointment because it meant the Rangers were out on Patrick Kane.
We were wrong, and for the most part, we have Drury and Kane to thank.
Kane had a no-trade clause with the Chicago Blackhawks. That meant Kane could go anywhere he wanted, and that anywhere was Madison Square Garden. The trick was finding a way to make it work under the salary cap.
Whereas Cohen has the option to absorb every nonsense financial penalty derived to punish trying to win, the Rangers needed to navigate through a hard cap. That involved some real creativity.
Picks had to be moved to the Phoenix Coyotes for them to absorb salary. Vitaly Kratsov was essentially given away to clear cap room. Jake Leschyshyn was waived. This was all done in the name of getting Kane and making the Rangers legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Like the Mets with Scherzer and Verlander, the Rangers have Kane and Tarasenko. They pushed the limits of spending in their sport, and they put themselves in a position to win the Stanley Cup. With any luck, there will be two parades down the Canyon of Heroes this year.
Listening to Buck Showalter having to again address questions about the possibility of a Pete Alonso extension, he seemed a little perturbed by it. Part of his response to the inquiry was that Alonso won’t be a free agent next week while also noting Alonso won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season.
Certainly, part of the reason for the questions is because Jeff McNeil just signed an extension. Another reason is it’s spring training, and unless there is an injury (knock on wood), there isn’t much to talk about at this point of the season.
Mostly, it is because of the decision the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen made before the start of the 2019 season.
If the Mets had kept Alonso down in the minors for two weeks to start the season, Alonso would not have been a free agent until after the 2025 season. However, the Mets opted not to do that because they were telling everyone they were a win-now team, and they were going to do everything to win-now.
People bought into it like they did with many of the Wilpon lies. As we saw at the trade deadline when the team did not address the bullpen, which is what prevented them from making the postseason, and their trading for Marcus Stroman “as a replacement” for Zack Wheeler, they were not pulling out all of the stops to win the 2019 World Series.
Rather, what they were saying was they didn’t care about a future where Alonso hits free agency. In reality, they didn’t care much about the future as evidenced by allowing Van Wagenen to absolutely gut the farm system. It just wasn’t trading Jarred Kelenic or other top prospects.
Looking towards the Mets current roster, they have Omar Narváez behind the plate. The Milwaukee Brewers obtained him from the Seattle Mariners for prospect Adam Hill and a supplemental second round pick. The Brewers obtained Hill from the Mets in the Keon Broxton trade. Broxton was horrible for the Mets for 34 games until he was moved for international slot bonus money.
The reason the Mets made bad trades like this was because they hired an agent turned GM who had no idea what he was doing. He was working along with Jeff Wilpon who had even less of an idea. Mostly, the Wilpons knew they were going to have to sell, so they were taking one last crack at winning the World Series.
In essence, who cares about three years from now when you won’t own the team for more than two?
So, Alonso started the year in the majors. He would be an All-Star and set the rookie home run record. Alonso earned starting the year on the Opening Day roster, and he proved himself.
However, that’s not how smart teams operate. After all, look at the Chicago Cubs with Kris Bryant. They kept longer control, and they won every grievance because that’s the system in place. There are countless other examples in this sport.
The Wilpons just didn’t care because they knew they weren’t going to be around for it. It didn’t matter that extra year of control meant you were guaranteed to keep Alonso an extra year, and it would likely mean less would have to be paid out on an extension. When you are acting disingenuously and being completely self serving, that’s what happens.
So, if you want to know why there’s a ton of questions now, the answer is the Wilpons. Everything annoying and bad about this franchise always goes back to them.
Based on how everything transpired, we can question whether the New York Mets Plan A was Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander. In the end, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is the Mets needed to get at least one of them, and they did that. They signed the future Hall of Famer and reigning American League Cy Young winner.
An interest note here is there are three pitchers in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year and two Cy Youngs – Tom Seaver, deGrom, and Velander. Seaver and Verlander have three Cy Youngs, and deGrom won the award in consecutive seasons.
All three are Mets.
This is just a bizarre place to be as a Mets fan. We’re not even five years removed from the Mets “replacing” Zack Wheeler with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
The fact the Mets followed deGrom by giving Verlander the highest AAV for a player is something that didn’t happen here. The fact it came the year after the Mets did the same with Max Scherzer never would’ve been contemplated.
Keep in mind, this is who the Mets are now. They already made Francisco Lindor the highest paid shortstop, and Edwin Díaz the highest paid reliever.
The only objective is winning, and the Mets will now spend to do it. Verlander epitomizes who the franchise is now.
Verlander returned from Tommy John and was Verlander. He led the AL in wins, ERA, WHIP, ERA+, and hits per nine. That’s why he won a Cy Young.
Yes, the strikeouts were down and was the velocity. However, the spin is still there, and he’s still limiting hard contact and barrels.
In some ways, that answers the question we always had about Verlander. What would he be when his velocity dipped? The answer is the best pitcher in the AL.
The next questions doesn’t have an easy answer. How will he handle the 2022 workload? Also, how will he be in his age 40 season?
Looking at Scherzer, he was great, but he was also more injury prone. To some degree, that might’ve cost him and the Mets the World Series.
Then again, just having Scherzer made the Mets a great team who won 101 games. Verlander promises to do the same for this team in 2023. That goes double with the Mets having Scherzer and Verlander.
As an interesting aside, Scherzer and Verlander were in the same rotation for the Detroit Tigers from 2010 – 2014. They Ron the division four straight years winning a pennant.
This is in play for the Mets. They have co-aces who can help the Mets take the next step. Last year, it was the Wild Card Series. Next year, we will see how far they can go.
This is possible because the Mets pivoted after losing deGrom to sign Verlander. They replaced one future Hall of Famer with another. They showed they will continue to do what is necessary to win.
The Mets needed Verlander and signed him. It’s a great day to be a Mets fan.
Noah Syndergaard left the New York Mets for good reasons. Those reasons included whether he believed he could handle pitching in New York with diminished velocity.
The answer was he wasn’t anywhere close to being Syndergaard. Better yet, he wasn’t Thor. Nowhere close.
Syndergaard was once known for the ability to ramp it up to 100 MPH. Instead, post Tommy John, he was throwing 94 MPH with his slider velocity similarly diminished.
What’s interesting is he did have a slight dip in velocity from April through the 2022 season. That may be an indication he’s still working his way back physically. Perhaps, there’s a couple more MPH in his right arm.
With Syndergaard, that’s the intrigue. We’ve seen it from him previously. Whoever signs him is partially betting on the ability to get Syndergaard closer to the pitcher he was.
On that front, the Mets have Jeremy Hefner. Hefner has built his reputation as an excellent pitching coach. We’ve already seen how his ability to hone mechanics helped Edwin Díaz have a phenomenal season.
Maybe it’s a mechanical issue with Syndergaard. It’s possible he just needs to rebuild arm strength. Likely, it’s a combination of the two. Again, that’s why the Mets have Hefner.
It’s also possible this is who Syndergaard is now. If that is the case, Syndergaard is still intriguing.
Looking at the 2022 numbers, he struggles getting going in the first inning. He starts to lose his control the third time through the lineup. After 100 pitches, opposing batters start hitting him very hard.
This turned Syndergaard into a five and fly guy. The Philadelphia Phillies gave him a very short leash in the postseason. He was just another fifth starter to them.
In some ways, this makes him similar to what the Mets had with Carlos Carrasco. When he returned from injury in 2021, he struggled mightily, especially in that first inning.
In 2022, it was a different story. He was still at his worst in the first, but he was better able to navigate it. Even having the same limitations as Syndergaard, he still won 15 games with a respectable 3.53 FIP.
That’s what we’ve seen with Hefner as pitching coach. If there’s something there, he’s going to help that pitcher find it. With Syndergaard, there is something there.
Per Baseball Savant, Syndergaard still limited hard contact. He also had good control with a low walk rate. Part of the reason for that is Syndergaard’s extension.
We saw Syndergaard slower to the plate this year and taking more time between pitches. Perhaps, that was a confidence issue. Maybe, he was just trying to figure it out. Whatever the case, the pitch clock promises to get him working quicker pushing him towards being more of himself.
Another thing of note is Syndergaard generated a number of ground balls with his sinker/slider combination. He’d benefit from having Francisco Lindor up the middle. A better defense can make a better pitcher.
All told, there’s enough there to talk you into Syndergaard. That’s even before following Zack Wheeler’s rocky return from Tommy John where he threw 94.8 MPH in 2017 and 96.8 two years later.
The 100 MPH may be forever gone, but in all likelihood, there’s another tick or two in that fastball (and slider). Thor is still deep down somewhere in there.
There’s definite risk with Syndergaard, but it’s probably not going to be cost prohibitive to take that risk. That’s a factor for the Mets who are looking to bring back Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo while rebuilding an entire pitching staff.
For the Mets, maybe Syndergaard is worth the gamble. Maybe Hefner is that good. Maybe Syndergaard as a fifth starter can help manufacture pitching depth by forcing Tylor Megill and David Peterson to Syracuse to start the year.
In all likelihood, this probably won’t happen, and certainly, the Mets should pursue other angles first. Syndergaard may not want to return, and the Mets may have no interest in bringing him back. That said, things get weird in the offseason, and at some point, it could make sense for the two to reunite.
In the end, there may be something there with Syndergaard, and the Mets finally have the type of organization which can unlock it. We will see if that will happen.
The minute Jacob deGrom exercised his opt out was the exact minute anything could happen. At some point, a team could unexpectedly swoop in and offer him a deal to steal him right out from under the New York Mets.
Case-in-point: no one expected the Los Angeles Angels to sign Noah Syndergaard after the Mets offered him a qualifying offer. However, it happened, and Syndergaard is gone. There are some who expect the same will happen with deGrom.
From Jon Heyman, "Folks who have spoken to the Mets lately opine that they believe deGrom seems pretty likely to leave."
— Metsmerized Online (@Metsmerized) November 8, 2022
There are some who expect him to go to the Texas Rangers. There are some believing the San Diego Padres may be suitors. You can never count out the Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Sox. There are reports the Atlanta Braves want to make a run (this doesn’t pass the smell test after they let Freddie Freeman go for less than deGrom will cost).
When you look around, there aren’t many people who expect deGrom to return to the Mets. Well, that is except for the people who know deGrom best. We have heard Chris Bassitt, Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler say they expect deGrom to say. They say he’s happy with the Mets and only wants a fair market deal.
When deGrom signed his initial extension, he spoke about how he wanted to be a Met for life like his friend David Wright. We have heard exactly nothing that would have us believe deGrom has changed his mind on that. Really, all we have is conjecture from people that they believe deGrom might go.
If it comes down to money, well, the Mets have Steve Cohen.
Cohen was the same man who gave Francisco Lindor $1 million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. to get him to sign a contract extension. He have Edwin Diaz the largest ever deal for a reliever to get him to stay. He handed out the largest average annual value to Max Scherzer to get him to come to the Mets. Now, all of a sudden, he’s going to let deGrom walk over money?
If Cohen has shown us anything, he’s not going to necessarily let money stand in the way. He knows great players need to get paid, and that great players deserve more than their “value.” Mostly, Cohen understands deGrom is Mets royalty, and Cohen respects Mets history.
Cohen brought back Old Timers’ Day. Keith Hernandez and Willie Mays had their numbers retired. Former players like Ray Knight talk about how they loved the Mets, hated, the Wilpons, and now, feel more welcomed to return to the ballpark.
Cohen was also a Mets fan when Tom Seaver was traded. While not on the same level, deGrom is this generation’s Seaver. Arguably, deGrom is the second greatest Met of all-time. He could be their next Hall of Famer (depending on what happens with Carlos Beltran), and he could have his number retired by the Mets one day.
Does Cohen want to be the owner who let deGrom leave over money? Does he want to see deGrom leave on his watch? The answers should likely be no.
Another thing here is Cohen has cited the Los Angeles Dodgers as the model he wants to follow. Well, time and again, even with the injuries, the Dodgers have found a way to keep Clayton Kershaw, even with all of his injuries.
The Dodgers have understood for true franchise greats and Hall of Famers the typical rules don’t apply. You take care of those players because they’re a part of the fabric of your organization. Another important factor is when the Dodgers deal with Kershaw the entire baseball world is watching.
It’s the same with the Mets. Everyone wants to see how the Mets handle their first homegrown future Hall of Famer to hit free agency.
How he’s treated impacts whether other players want to play for the Mets or stay with the team. It’ll impact agents handling extensions. Again, there is a real impact.
Through all of it, we’re left with the simple fact Jacob deGrom wants to be a Met for life, and Steve Cohen has the ability to make it happen. If this is all truly the case, there are no excuses for not getting a deal done.
The 2022 World Series will be quite telling for New York Mets fans. This World Series will truly confirm once and for all the baseball gods hate us, and that Mets fans cannot have nice things.
After all, how else are we going to explain what is happening in the world of baseball.
Really, since Citi Field was opened there has been little more than torture for Mets fans. There was the Madoff Scandal and all the austerity measures. When the Mets finally got good in 2015, we effectively lost David Wright forever, and it was the beginning of the end for Matt Harvey, who would have a troubled injury plagued career mirroring his troubled life.
The Mets made a big run to get back into the 2016 postseason only to lose in the Wild Card Game. From there, nearly every single one of the Mets beloved starters would go down with injury. That included Noah Syndergaard, who went down twice with major injuries.
After some down years, which included the rise of Jacob deGrom as the best pitcher in baseball, we got Brodie Van Wagenen mortgaging the farm while simultaneously not going all-in to win. Van Wagenen was the guy who sought to redefine the role of a GM, and instead, he wound up merely redefining how to be a terrible GM.
After those horror years, we finally got Steve Cohen. The results have been disappointing. That’s not to blame Cohen or this front office who has done everything they could do to win.
We saw deGrom go from the best pitcher in baseball to unable to stay on the field for more than a few months at a time. Now, he is opting out of his contract. Javier Baez came, and the Mets fell apart last season leading to him being gone. There was yet another collapse this season.
To make matters worse, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series last season. They ran past the Mets and didn’t look past last year. This year, they chased down the Mets all year, and they finally caught them on the final weekend of the season.
Of course, it needs to be noted Travis d’Arnaud has been a leader for the Braves. They also got great relief work from Colin McHugh. This is what just seems to happen to the Mets. We can rattle off names like Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy. The Mets don’t understand what they have in players, they let them go, and then, they act amazed when good players thrive when given an opportunity to thrive.
That brings us to Zack Wheeler leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a pennant. Wheeler was an ace level pitcher on the Mets. He was that for the Phillies. Notably, this Phillies team also has Syndergaard.
There is absolutely zero reason to expect the Phillies to win. Then again, we should not have expected Howie Kendrick to become Reggie Jackson and for Stephen Strasburg to become Bob Gibson in 1999. We should not have expected the Braves bullpen to look like Jeff Nelson–Mike Stanton–Mariano Rivera last year.
The Houston Astros are one of the greatest teams we’ve ever seen. They haven’t lost a game this postseason, an unmatched feat in the Wild Card Era. They have Justin Verlander, and they have a manager in Dusty Baker who just needs that one World Series to ensure his rightful place in Cooperstown. Everything should point to them winning the World Series with ease.
And yet, there is the Mets factor. Make no mistake, if the Phillies win here, it is nothing more than the baseball gods taunting us Mets fans. It is what they did in 2019 and 2021, the last two World Series with a full season. For that matter, no Mets fan wanted to see the Los Angeles Dodgers win in 2020.
The Astros should win this series, and it should be a short series. As a Mets fan, we somehow know better.
Just because the New York Mets lost in the 2022 Wild Card Series to the San Diego Padres does not mean the Mets will somehow not be represented in the World Series. In fact, both teams have some of the once top rated Mets pitching prospects in this series.
If you can recall back to the 2014 season, we can remember the Mets had viewed Jacob deGrom as a future reliever. At the time, they did not know they had someone who would be the best pitcher in baseball. Instead, deGrom was a too old for his level pitching prospect who was a converted shortstop.
Standing in deGrom’s way was Rafael Montero. He was famously a prospect the Mets held onto for too long while getting rid of him too soon. That was just the way things were when the Wilpons were in charge of the franchise.
Montero never panned out as a starting pitcher. It was not until he went to the Texas Rangers that he found a role for himself as a reliever. In typical Montero fashion, it has not been a smooth ride from there. He struggled for a few more years before another breakout season with the Houston Astros.
Montero was phenomenal this season. In 71 appearances, he was 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA, 1.024 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 9.6 K/9. So far this postseason, he has only allowed one earned over 5.1 innings. While not as a starter, at 31, he is finally having the level of success the Mets once imagined he would have.
In a twist of irony, the Mets did imagine Montero would be one of the best starters for a rotation which had Matt Harvey was the ace. Behind the two of them was going to be Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Well, Wheeler and Syndergaard are now standing opposite Montero in this series.
The tales of both Wheeler and Syndergaard are both fresh and well known for Mets fans. In terms of Wheeler, the organization really showed its own flaws with their complete inability to self scout. Their player projection and analytics teams looked as ill funded and understaffed as they were.
Wheeler didn’t get to be the pitcher the Mets had hoped he could be when they traded Carlos Beltran for him until the second half of the 2018 season. From there, he was actually one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He was top 15 in FIP and had the second best hard hit rate. Rather than see that and the woeful defense put behind him, the Mets just to foolishly sell fans that Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation as Wheeler, as his replacement.
Predictably, Wheeler has been an ace level pitcher despite arguably not being as good as he was with the Mets. So far, he is 1-1 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.513 WHIP, and an 8.33 K/BB this postseason. He is likely to get the ball in Game 1 of the World Series.
Unlike Montero and Wheeler, Syndergaard actually pitched for the Mets in the postseason. In fact, Syndergaard was the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game. He is the last Mets starter to not allow an earned run in a postseason start (2016 Wild Card Game).
Despite his big game credentials, Syndergaard has only started one game this postseason while making two appearances out of the bullpen. For Mets fans, that was reminiscent of his electric one inning performance in the clinching Game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things haven’t been great for Syndergaard since he looked like a future Cy Young in 2016. He dealt with a number of injuries. He worked hard to pitch for the Mets post Tommy John heading towards free agency. He asked for, received, and rejected the qualifying offer much to the dismay of Mets fans.
His choice of the Los Angeles Angels proved less than inspired. He would talk about his mental difficulties in New York, and after he was traded to the Phillies, he avoided the Mets the two times he was lined up to face them.
This may not be too different than most Mets pitchers returning from Tommy John. For whatever which reason, Mets pitchers seems to have a steeper mountain to climb in their returns. When you look at their current pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner, you realize some never make it all the way back to a Major League mound.
Despite all that, while he’s not Thor, Syndergaard is pitching for a team who just won the pennant. He is back on the stage he was seven years ago, albeit in a far different role. He’s also with a once hated rival. Remember, he is the guy who “threw” at beloved former Phillie Chase Utley.
As noted, that was all seven years ago. Things are far, far different. Things are much different than they were in 2012 when these three were all uber prospects that were going to lead the Mets to a World Series. Instead, now, they are pitching in the World Series for different teams, and at least one of them will get the ring we thought they would one day with the Mets.
The 2015 season was great for the New York Mets but a trying one for Zack Wheeler. It was never supposed to be that way.
At the end of the 2014 season, Wheeler was terrific. From June 30 to September 7, he was 7-1 with a 2.21 ERA. In the second half, he was 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA.
That was supposed to be his springboard to a true breakout 2015 season. He was supposed to join reigning Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and a returning from Tommy John Matt Harvey to form a super rotation.
Except it didn’t work out that way. Wheeler succumbed to a torn UCL in Spring Training. He was eventually supplanted by Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in the young rotation designed to turn the Mets into World Series contenders.
He was replaced and nearly traded. He and Wilmer Flores were nearly traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. If not for Carlos Gomez’s medicals, Wheeler’s story with the Mets ends there.
While we saw Flores crying, Wheeler was trying to intercede with Sandy Alderson. Given the interest in him and the Mets needs, it’s possible his efforts were the reason he was not traded.
However, that was the days of the Wilpon Mets. Embarrassment and nonsense were sure to follow. Mostly, needless pettiness did.
Wheeler wanted to be a part of that 2015 pennant run. This was his team. He was (once) part of the foundation. Only, the Wilpons didn’t want him there.
Seems like just yesterday the Mets were telling Zack Wheeler to buy his own tickets if he wanted to attend the 2015 postseason games.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) October 19, 2022
Of course, the Wilpons were that cheap. Even their own players had to purchase tickets to see postseason games. After all, these were the owners duped in a Ponzi Scheme and were continuously over leveraging themselves in a desperate attempt to keep the team.
Things were so bad they were a part of Amway. Amway.
Things would get worse for Wheeler. His Tommy John rehab was a nightmare requiring additional surgeries. He would not return until 2017. That season was cut short with bicep tendinitis and a stress fracture in his humerus.
It would not be until the second half or the 2018 season that we finally saw Wheeler fulfill his potential. He was dazzling going 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA.
With him cane hopes for a Mets quick resurgence. Again, the Wilpons are cheap and dumb. They hired an agent who showed no regard for the Mets future or really any clue as to what he was doing.
He tried to sell Marcus Stroman as his replacement. It was a complete farce to replace Wheeler with someone in the same rotation. It’s the Amway of building rotations.
Wheeler wanted to return and was willing to take less. Perhaps, he didn’t purchase enough postseason tickets because the Wilpons were not willing or able to bring him back at a discount.
Rather than be gracious, Brodie Van Wagenen took unnecessary shots at Wheeker. All Wheeler ever wanted was to be a Met, and Van Wagenen wanted no part in that. That goes double for the Wilpons.
Well, the end result was Wheeler with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was the ace he was with the Mets only to be recognized as such now.
He found himself in the postseason and has pitched great. He’s pitched the Phillies to a pennant. This time, he had a front row seat. He was paid to be there and not the other way around.
Wheeler wanted to fully experience this with the Mets. The Wilpons didn’t want that.
Well, Jeff Wilpon is out of baseball. Their GM is now an agent again. Fred Wilpon sold away almost all of his team. Wheeler is pitching for a pennant winner.
Wheeler deserves this moment. Hopefully, he cherishes it and the bit of irony he’s celebrating it with Syndergaard. Congratulations to them both.
The Philadelphia Phillies won Game 1 of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres. They’re now three games away from the World Series.
This is as unexpected a run as you could imagine. First and foremost, one year ago, the Phillies would not be in the postseason. However, with the expansion of the postseason under the new CBA, the Phillies made it, and they’ve made the most of their opportunity.
They also took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them by Brodie Van Wagenen’s ineptitude.
When Van Wagenen was hired by the Mets, Bryce Harper was hitting free agency. Due to a multitude of factors, his market wasn’t as bullish as it nearly should’ve been.
Harper was always complimentary of the Mets pitching staff. He was a player who wanted a large market, and he liked what the Mets had. He could have been a missing piece which took them to another level.
Instead, Van Wagenen opted to trade for his former client Robinson Canó. He fulfilled his client’s wishes and brought him back to New York.
Cano came with a $24 million AAV. For the Mets, that was $20.25 million. Harper signed with the Phillies for a $25 million AAV. In terms of overall AAV, Harper was only making one million more per season.
Now, Harper wasn’t a guarantee for the Mets, especially with the Wilpons. However, this illustrates how the Mets opted to allocate their money.
Cano had a second PED suspension last year while Harper was the NL MVP. This year, Harper was an all-star while Cano was playing his way out of the league. Harper homered in Game 1 of the NLCS giving Zack Wheeler all the run support he needed.
Wheeler was very good with the Mets in his final few seasons. He was poised to be the steal of the 2019-2020 offseason. Of course, Van Wagenen thought differently.
He thought Wheeler only had two good halves with the Mets. His player valuation model which said to get Cano determined Wheeler was going to be overpaid.
Somehow, instead, Van Wagenen thought the Mets were better off with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. He was completely alone in that line of thinking.
Wheeler turned down more lucrative offers to stay local. He wanted to be a Met. He settled on the Phillies at a discount. The Mets just walked away from Wheeler to purposefully get worse.
Since that time, Wheeler was a Cy Young runner up last season, and he was in the top 12 a year before that. He was a first time all-star.
He also won Game 1 of the NLCS pitching seven shutout innings. He has a 1.40 ERA this postseason. He’s doing it all for the Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want him.
Harper and Wheeler led the Phillies to the postseason, and they led them to a Game 1 victory. Both are Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want them. That goes double for Wheeler
The Mets loss is the Phillies gain. The good news is the Mets have Steve Cohen now instead of the Wilpons and Van Wagenen. This situation will not happen again, and even if it were to happen, the Mets would have a lot more than Porcello and Wacha to show for it.
With Jarred Kelenic and the Seattle Mariners coming to town, many will attempt to re-litigate the shocking trade which sent Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners organization as a part of a trade package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Of course, 2022 performances invite revisionist history here.
This season, Diaz has clearly been the top performer from this trade. Through 14 appearances, he is 1-0 with seven saves, a 1.93 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and a 15.4 K/9. He looks like he’s having a career year, but it’s important to note much of that is due to Jeremy Hefner.
Hefner has diligently worked with Diaz on his mechanics making sure his delivery has been repeatable, and he’s landing with his foot pointed towards home plate. He’s also helped Diaz create more break and spin leading to a 55. Whiff%. Really, it took four years for Diaz to be what the Mets expected him to be.
In many ways, Diaz is not the same pitcher he was in his first three years with the Mets. That’s very good to a certain extent because that Diaz was not the difference maker he was advertised to be.
On that point, it is important to remember the trade to obtain him was a win-now deal for the Wilpons who were nearing being forced to sell the New York Mets to the highest bidder. Really, the deal smelled like a one last shot to try to win a World Series, and ironically, it was the trade that prevented the Mets from winning that World Series.
In 2019, Diaz was dreadful with a career worst 5.59 ERA, 74 ERA+, and 4.51 FIP. He blew seven saves and lost seven games for a Mets team which missed the postseason by three games. Really, Diaz was a big reason why the Mets missed the postseason that year.
Cano might’ve been a bigger reason. Cano was the target as Brodie Van Wagenen sought to bring his former client back to New York as Cano wanted. Cano responded with a career worst season with a 0.6 WAR and a 94 wRC+. This was supposed to be a key bat in the lineup, and Cano was terrible while Van Wagenen ensured Mickey Callaway batted his former client third.
With Cano, it is the gift which keeps on giving. Yes, he had a bounce-back 2020 season, but as we learned, he was using PEDs again. That cost him the 2021 season, and with him able to physically return, it was $40.5 million the Mets did not get to spend.
Instead of keeping Aaron Loup or further addressing the bullpen, the Mets were restricted to Adam Ottavino and Chasen Shreve. Instead of a Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, or Seiya Suzuki, the Mets obtained Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, who have so far underwhelmed this season.
Really, that has been the theme of Cano’s time on the Mets. It’s been the organization wasting resources on him that could have been better spent. The biggest example of that is Zack Wheeler desperately wanted to stay with the Mets, but they couldn’t keep him because the money was going to Cano.
As a result, the Mets dead weight became the Phillies ace. The Wilpons didn’t have any money to spend in the ensuing offseasons, and Steve Cohen has $20.25 million per year he can’t spend on better talent through next season.
There’s also the matter of this season. The Mets completely wasted plate appearances over the first month of the season trying to see what they had in Cano. The answer was nothing, and they were happy to part with him and his onerous contract. However, that came with a consequence with Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis not getting the playing time they needed to succeed this season.
There were some who wanted to defend the trade because the Mets moved “untradeable contracts.” The Mariners had no problem trading Jay Bruce whatsoever. They also traded Anthony Swarzak, who helped the Atlanta Braves win the division.
Also, keep in mind the Mets parted with two Top 100 prospects in Kelenic and Justin Dunn. Certainly, Kelenic has struggled early in his career, and Dunn is dealing with a shoulder injury. Certainly, that is part of a very suspect Mariners player development system where we constantly ask why their prospects never seem to pan out.
However, this is also very much besides the point. Back in the 2018 offseason, that duo could have gotten the Mets anything they wanted. Teams would have been literally lining topping one another to get Kelenic and Dunn.
Remember, this deal came in the same offseason the Miami Marlins traded J.T. Realmuto. Instead, the Mets hastily accepted a closer and an albatross.
That deal cost the Mets the 2019 postseason. It cost them the opportunity to compete in 2020. It cost them the ability to make deadline deals in 2021 because that trade and all of Van Wagenen’s trades cost them valuable prospect depth needed to swing the trades the Mets needed. It was also $40.5 million the Mets did not have to spend on free agents.
It will again impact the Mets at the trade deadline and this ensuring offseason. All told, this deal remains an unmitigated disaster no matter how great Diaz is or how much Kelenic struggles.