The New York Mets have a reputation for being cheap. However, they’ve employed the highest paid player in the National League six times since 2003.
We’ve all heard the narrative plenty: the New York Mets are cheap.
Well, maybe in some ways they are. They rarely go after an abundance of quality yet expensive players. Instead, they hunt for bargains more routinely than they should.
However, since 2003, the Mets have been willing to hand out big contracts. Six times they have employed the highest salaried player in the National League.
Paying someone the most doesn’t always equal success. Mo Vaughn’s $17.16 million salary in 2003 is the best example of this. Things did get better in 2008 when Carlos Beltran took home the prize as the league’s highest salaried player at $18.62 million.
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Two years later, Johan Santana began making more money than any other NL player. From 2010 until 2013, he led the way with salaries ranging from $20.14 million to $25.5 million.
Even in earlier years of the post-one-million dollar salary, we find Metropolitans as the salary leaders. Beginning in 1985 when salaries were tracked to completion, the team team has ten years where they paid a player the highest salary. In addition to the ones previously mentioned, there was George Foster in 1986 and Bobby Bonilla from 1992-1994.
As we see with these two names, we again remember how dishing out the highest number doesn’t always work. Foster was a major disappointment in New York. Bonilla, while he did have some productive years in his first trip through Flushing, didn’t help the team much in the standings.
For the record, the Mets aren’t the only team to overpay such a large sum of money and fail to reap the rewards. If the ultimate goal is to win a championship, let’s take note of how many times the Los Angeles Dodgers have owned the highest salaried player. Their 13 times since 1985 beats the Mets by a small margin.
Maybe oddest of all, the only National League team to win a World Series since 1985 while employing the highest paid player in the league are the Mets. Foster’s presence for the first few months of 1986 answer this trivia question. The American League has been luckier in this regard, but not by much.
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Baseball is a team sport. This data is yet another reminder of how the quality of contracts over the quantity truly matters.