Steve Cohen’s deep pockets could potentially control the offseason free agent market and make the New York Mets the one team every agent wants to hear from.
What makes a player want to call a particular city home when he becomes a free agent? Location is definitely important. So is the amount of playing time. Let’s also not forget about his chances of winning. We’ve seen plenty of players sign with the New York Mets or go somewhere else for all of these reasons and more.
This winter, with Steve Cohen seemingly prepared to take over as the owner, his deep pockets could make the money aspect of the game a lot more important to free agents.
Two years ago, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado entered free agency. The two young stars practically hijacked the free agent market. Signings took longer than expected. Trades were delayed because of it.
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I don’t think we’ll get a similar offseason like that based on the available players. Instead, the control may fall into Cohen’s lap as free agents hope to see how much money they can get out of him.
Several of the top free agents this winter would make sense for the Mets. You have to consider every starting pitcher and reliever as a possibility. Throw in catcher J.T. Realmuto, outfielders George Springer and Marcell Ozuna, and even infielders DJ LeMahieu and Didi Gregorius as well as any other top name hitting the open market.
Let’s face it; things will be a whole lot different with Cohen’s money around. Even when a player may not seem like an obvious fit, if it’s someone the owner wants, he’ll find a way to make it work.
Realistically, we cannot expect the Mets to overpay for every one of the top free agents this winter. However, until they do stop spending, baseball’s best nomads will put up their best front in an attempt to possibly land a new deal with the richest owner in the league.
New York is certainly not a destination for every athlete. I don’t think there’s enough money you could pay some players to call it home.
For others, money talks a lot louder.
Hopeful they could get one of the big deals from Cohen, I expect a lot of free agents to have a wait and see approach. Some will get timid and sign out of fear that they have to see a repeat of the offseason from two years ago when it barely moved.
Bolder free agents that know they will get a deal somewhere will feel fine waiting until February to ink a deal. If it means playing for a few million more and on a team eager to buy its way to a championship, I cannot see why waiting a little longer than expected would hurt them.
Contrary to the idea that Cohen and the Mets could hold up free agency, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them aggressively target the players they want. In the Harper and Machado situation, it seemed the players had leverage. This time, the power appears to belong to Cohen.
There’s a long way between now and the time when Cohen can start handpicking his free agent choices. A deal still needs to be finalized and he needs to be approved.
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We can dream, though. After two offseasons without any big-ticket free agents coming to town, I look forward to seeing what money can actually buy and whether or not it can purchase happiness.