Mets fans have a right to be furious over lack of spending


Coming off a World Series appearance, the team’s inability or refusal to spend is galling

It’s rare for #MetsTwitter to be united, but the signing of Alejandro De Aza — as innocuous as it might have been under another set of circumstances — did just that.

The Mets, coming off a thrilling run to the World Series, with arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, had seemingly wrapped up their major offseason moves with the signing of De Aza. And it’s not that De Aza is a “bad player.” Rather, it’s what his signing likely means.

As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out, the Mets’ offseason as a whole hasn’t been bad. They’ve added depth (a favorite new refrain of theirs) while addressing areas of need. And regardless of what you might have wanted them to do, there were no “perfect fits” out there. But aside from perhaps Mike Trout, who is under contract in Los Angeles, are there really any “perfect fits” on offense?

In signing De Aza, the Mets have almost certainly shut the door on Yoenis Cespedes, who would’ve had to play center field with the Mets during the first two years of his potential contract. Would that have been perfect? No. But neither is De Aza, who played a poor defensive center field in 2012, a terrible defensive center field in 2013, and has barely played there since.

The Mets can’t say that Cespedes isn’t a fit because of his defense in center field but then turn around and sign De Aza — a poor defender who isn’t in the same stratosphere as Cespedes offensively.

More from Rising Apple

Fair or not, the Mets’ refusal to sign Cespedes or any other upper-echelon free agent (sorry, Ben Zobrist doesn’t count) makes them look like they either can’t afford it or are unwilling to take any kind of financial risk.

But the Mets didn’t have to sign Cespedes or one of the bigger-name free agents. They could’ve also waited out the market for Denard Span or (gasp!) made another trade to potentially address their need in center field. Instead, they rushed to sign De Aza even though the outfield market is absolutely saturated at the moment.

Additionally, the Mets’ reported refusal to offer more than one year to any center field option made no sense.

With Brandon Nimmo, the Mets have a solid prospect who should be ready at some point in 2016. He’s played the majority of his games in center field and might be a good option there. Or he might not be — either because of an inability to hit enough or an inability to stick defensively. Either way, he’s not a prospect the Mets should be worried about blocking.

As far as their internal center field option is concerned, there’s no reason to believe that Juan Lagares — who has struggled against right-handed pitching — will turn those struggles around. And much of his defensive value has been sapped because of a partial tear in his elbow that hasn’t been surgically repaired.

Again, can they explain why Cespedes didn’t fit in center field but De Aza does? Is there any legitimate reason other than money? Can they explain why they jumped the market for a player who was DFA’d this past season when there were tons of other options still available?

Sure, there exists a minuscule chance that this is a front office-driven plan, but this reeks of what the issue has been since the Bernard Madoff scandal — ownership’s inability or refusal to spend like a large-market team.

And it doesn’t matter if Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were complicit or should’ve known a Ponzi scheme was happening. The lawsuit has been settled. What matters is that ownership has been largely silent, leaving the front office to answer the questions as it pertains to payroll.

Beyond the issue of almost certainly refusing to re-sign Cespedes and bowing out on Span before negotiations began is the fact that the Mets are never even mentioned as a team that could potentially sign a legitimate upper-echelon free agent.

This isn’t a call to spend recklessly. No team should do that. But the inability or refusal to ever be in the conversation to sign a potential game-changer? That’s a joke.

Moreover, looking down the road, the incredible, young, cheap starting rotation the Mets have will almost certainly get broken up. And while no team can afford to spend nearly $1 billion on its starting rotation, it’s fair to wonder if the Mets will be able or willing to keep any of these incredible pitchers beyond their arbitration years.

The Mets should still be good in 2016, perhaps even the favorites to win the NL East, but that shouldn’t be the bar here. They should’ve re-signed Cespedes or at least waited out the market. They should’ve signed Darren O’Day or Tony Sipp to bolster the bullpen. They should’ve explored the trade market beyond the Jon Niese for Neil Walker swap.

Instead, either due to financial constraints from above, a lack of creativity, or both, they’ve “added depth.”

GM Sandy Alderson, acting as a mouthpiece for ownership, said that increased attendance would lead to a higher payroll, but the Mets have not made good on that promise.

When the Mets should be doing everything they can to support a once-in-a-lifetime starting rotation, they’re holding tight. And it’s an absolute disgrace.

Next: Mets sign De Aza, and that's not okay

Mets fans deserve more, their players deserve more, and the sport deserves more.