The Mets have said that improving the bullpen this year is a priority, but their unwillingness to spend is proving otherwise.
The Winter Meetings are in full swing, and the Mets have been linked to several bullpen arms over the past few days. Unfortunately for them, two of the biggest ones available were taken off the board on Tuesday. This is now leaving them with fewer options going into the final days of the meetings.
Right-hander Bryan Shaw has reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with Colorado Rockies worth $27 million. According to Newsday’s Marc Carig, the Mets offered Shaw a third year as well, but didn’t offer as much financially as the Rockies. Carig notes that were likely other factors involved too such as the fact that Shaw wanted to sign with a team that had Spring Training in Arizona and not Florida. And maybe I would be willing to give the Mets a pass on this one if they also didn’t swing and miss on Tommy Hunter.
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The former Rays reliever signed a two-year with the Phillies, and while terms haven’t been disclosed, Carig’s report notes it was probably between $18 to $20 million overall. The 31-year-old had a 2.61 ERA in the 61 games he pitched for Tampa Bay last season. He was also very high on the Mets’ radar.
Both of these signings show a disappointing lack of action by the Mets’ front office. Sandy Alderson hasn’t enjoyed the payroll questions that have been thrown at him during the Winter Meetings, but it’s almost impossible not to wonder why the Mets aren’t spending.
Many will be quick to say that they are broke, and that they simply don’t have the money to compete with high-spending teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, or Cubs, specially after the Bernie Maddof debacle. But I’m not sure that’s 100% accurate. It’s looking more and more like the team’s ownership just doesn’t want to spend.
Back in October, the Mets purchased the Syracuse Chiefs’ franchise to relocate their Triple-A affiliate there after the 2018 season. That purchase set the organization back $18 million. Back in July of this year, the Mets bought an esports franchise for a reported $20 million, as well. That’s a lot of money to be investing from a team that is thought to be cash-strapped.
Instead, this is just a team that simply refuses to spend more than they believe they have to. They signed Yoenis Cespedes before the 2017 season, brought Jay Bruce back after picking up his option, and they believe that those two acquisitions should squash questions of their willingness to spend. Wrong.
A year later, Bruce is gone, as is Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, and Lucas Duda. Who have the Mets signed to replace these pieces offensively? Nobody. They’ve instead pocketed the money and used the excuse that they don’t want to overpay to hide their unwillingness to do so.
Every day that passes without the team making a splash in the free agent or trade market makes it a little more obvious that one of two things are true: Ownership doesn’t want to spend, or Sandy Alderson refuses to do so even if ownership is willing to let him. If the latter is true, then Alderson’s time in Queens should come to an end. His two-year extension signed earlier in the offseason will probably prevent that from happening, but at some point, something has to change.
The Mets play in New York, but deal like a team in the middle of nowhere.