Mets: It’s no secret why Bryce Harper, Manny Machado aren’t in Queens

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Bryce Harper is introduced to the Philadelphia Phillies during a press conference at Spectrum Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Bryce Harper is introduced to the Philadelphia Phillies during a press conference at Spectrum Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

It’s no secret why the New York Mets didn’t sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado: the ownership.

On February 28, 2019, free agent slugger Bryce Harper signed a record-breaking 13 year $330M contract with Philadelphia Phillies. While this was making national headlines, the biggest news coming from New York Mets camp was that outfielder Brandon Nimmo became sick from eating undercooked chicken with a diagnosis later changed to a virus.

For years, Mets fans have been disappointed with the Wilpons and General Managers for shopping in the “bargain bin” for free agent talent, often bringing in veteran players that are past their prime; Jason Vargas being the most recent example.

So why is it that in a New York market the Mets consistently refuse to pursue high-end free agent talents such as Harper and Manny Machado?

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Let me start by saying that the Mets front office made some good moves this offseason, bringing in Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Jed Lowrie, to name a few. In fact, it’s been one of the most active offseasons in quite some time which was a breath of fresh air for Mets fans.

But from the start of the Winter Meetings, fans pleaded for Harper or Machado in hopes that the Wilpons would finally open up their wallets and pay to bring some of the best talents in the game to Queens. To the surprise of almost nobody, they didn’t sign with the Mets, and the Mets were never even in the mix. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen spoke in his introductory press conference about the Mets being a win-now team.

Wouldn’t signing one of these superstars put you in a great position to make a playoff run this upcoming season? Is signing Lowrie enough when Harper could solidify the Mets lineup for years to come, giving the Mets the franchise guy they’ve been looking for since Wright’s career started to derail? No disrespect to Lowrie, but he’s no Harper.

Perhaps the Wilpons wanted to save their money to extend the contracts of guys like deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard, and Conforto, none of which have happened yet. Or they simply didn’t like the idea of paying one player a hefty amount of money for 10+ years. Whatever it is, they weren’t signed, and the Mets best players are yet to be extended.

I may be in the minority, but the contract that the Phillies signed Harper to is financially a huge risk, due to how long they’re anticipating getting production out of him. Machado and Harper wanted extremely long contracts and an exorbitant amount of money, which they got, but I think 13 years is way too long of a contract. Personally, I would want Harper over Machado, but not on a 13-year deal.

As much as I would love to see either of them in a Mets uniform, it’s very risky to commit to a player for that long and for that much money. But why not take a risk for once and offer an eight to ten-year contract?

The answer is simple: The Wilpons are cheap, and we all know it.

Fans are used to it, and when the Mets do make a free agent splash, it always seems to be the wrong move; Jason Bay and Yoenis Cespedes, for example.

Granted, Cespedes was an integral piece of the 2015 team and helped get the Mets to the playoffs, but he’s been off the field more than he’s been on it since then. Unfortunately, during most offseasons, we watch great talent sign elsewhere while the Mets bring in veteran backups on minor league deals.

There’s a new general manager who’s extremely confident in his club, and some of the best pitching talents in the league in this rotation, why not go out and get a superstar bat?

I want to reiterate that the Mets had a great offseason. The team now has depth and veteran leaders who can still play at a high-level, but the offense still has something to prove, and so far in Spring Training, the defense has been questionable to say to least. There is no Gold Glove third baseman in this lineup like the Padres just got in Machado, and there is no 40+ home run corner outfielder in Harper either. The Mets refuse to take risks and pay for production.

The New York Yankees are always criticized for “buying championships” and not utilizing homegrown players. But why is that a bad thing when your franchise’s goal is to win championships? The Yankees take advantage of the New York market and spend on talent to win. Maybe the Wilpon’s can take a page out Brian Cashman’s and Hal Steinbrenner’s book.

Not signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper does not completely negate the offseason that they had. Although at this point, it’s unlikely that Van Wagenen will make any more moves. Fans can always hope though because names like Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel remain on the market and are reliable starting pitchers that can be the fifth starter instead of Vargas. Also, keep in mind that Mike Trout hits the free agent market in two years.

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Maybe the front office will finally take the risk we’ve all been waiting for and pay a top-tier free agent that can help this team win a World Series.