On the Mets & Spending (Again)

By Danny Abriano

This morning, Mets Twitter was sent into a frenzy because of this blurb from Adam Rubin’s morning briefing:

"Such a big deal has been made about the Mets’ draft position, and specifically whether the organization’s pick will be ‘protected.’  Well, it turns out, it is unlikely to matter.  That is because the Mets are not expected to vigorously pursue the free agents with draft-pick compensation attached — whether the pick is protected or not, according to a team insider.  The lone exception is Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo."

With that, most Mets fans went berserk.  I’m assuming some of them don’t understand the rules properly – taking the above quote to mean that the Mets wouldn’t be active in free agency at all.

Only free agents who receive a qualifying offer of roughly $14 million will be “protected” and cost the team that signs them a draft pick.

Sep 25, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo walks to first in the third inning during a game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote about the Mets and the draft pick compensation situation yesterday, but this blurb and the ensuing freakout has given me the perfect opportunity to state it again.  According to MLB Trade Rumors and common sense, there will likely be only seven players who are “protected” free agents (the type Rubin notes, through a team insider, the Mets are unlikely to pursue – with the exception of Choo).  Those seven free agents are:

Brian McCann, Robinson Cano, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Hunter Pence, and Shin-Soo Choo.

Of those free agents, only Pence and Choo are likely to be of interest to the Mets – and Rubin states in his blurb that the team is still interested in Choo (regardless of the compensation issue).  What needs to be understood, is that Rubin’s source could be correct or incorrect.  His source could also be floating information with the intent of keeping Choo’s price down.  We won’t know until everything plays out.

Regardless of whether or not the Mets will be all-in on one or more of the “protected” free agents, many fans have read this morning’s blurb and determined that the Mets aren’t going to spend a significant amount of money this offseason.  The writer whose blurb caused that line of thinking?  Adam Rubin.  Those fans are ignoring the fact that Rubin has been stating for the last few weeks that the Mets will be spending a large chunk of money this winter – though not necessarily on the seven “big” free agents.  In last week’s chat, Rubin estimated that the Mets would spend roughly $40 million on external players this offseason:

"A rough estimate, that would mean they spent about $40 million in 2014 dollars in acquiring players via free agency or trade."

During his chat yesterday, Rubin noted the following:

"I do believe there will be turnover. I think you’ll see a few 3 years, $39 million deals handed out or something like that. I don’t think you’ll see massive spending."

If Rubin is correct, and the Mets hand out “a few” 3 year deals worth $39 million, that would add $26 million to the 2014 payroll.  If the team adds a solid starting pitcher via free agency, that would likely bring the total added to the 2014 payroll to about $35 million…and that’s before you consider any money that might be added by players the team acquires via trade.

As is noted above, there are a variety of ways the Mets can add significantly to the payroll this offseason.  Instead of looking at the bulk of Rubin’s solid reporting, though, most fans are choosing to cherry pick one blurb and use it as a basis for going insane.

Even if the Mets don’t sign one of the seven players who is likely to be a “protected” free agent (only two of whom would be of interest to them anyway), they can still improve significantly – and I believe they will.

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