We've been hearing how close the Mets are to overcoming any financial concerns for years now. First it was getting rid of Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and not re-signing Jose Reyes. A couple of years later, it was the expiring contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay. Finally, it was increasing revenue by getting to the postseason. But while even the Kansas City Royals raised their payroll to $130M, the Mets were content with no major signings and a below-average payroll of 115M.
And then the Mets finally put their money where their mouths have been.
Without Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets would not have made the World Series last year. If you're not going to sign him, you need to find another way to make up the lost offense. Before yesterday, all the Mets had done was reshuffle their infield, and for the outfield, add Alejandro de Aza.
In 2015, de Aza had seven HR and 35 RBI in 325 at bats while playing for three teams. Cespedes hit 17 HR with 44 RBI in 230 AB after joining the Mets. For the season, he hit 35 HR with 105 RBI and a .291 BA for the Mets and Tigers. That might have been a career year - or it might have been a star player from Cuba reaching his potential in his fourth season in MLB at age 29. It's worth a three-year deal to find out which one it is.
Kudos to Sandy Alderson and the Mets front office for apparently getting Cespedes to leave a lot of money on the table. Kudos to Mets ownership for finally getting the payroll back towards where it was the last time the team was good. And kudos to local columnists and fans for putting on the pressure to get something done.
Now the Mets have gone from a team in danger of reverting to mediocrity - Fangraphs had just projected them to win 83 games in 2016 - back to a playoff contender. The revamped Cubs still look formidable, but at least the Nationals won't have Cespedes and Daniel Murphy flanking Bryce Harper in their lineup.
On the day of the biggest local blizzard in years, the Mets finally stopped trying to pull their financial snow job.