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Mets Monday Morning GM: What I learned about Steve Cohen this winter

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 08: A New York Mets batting helmet in the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Clover Park on March 8, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Astros 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 08: A New York Mets batting helmet in the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at Clover Park on March 8, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets defeated the Astros 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Steve Cohen might just be the most interesting man alive right now. We’ll never fully know him fully, but it’s safe to assume the New York Mets owner has a whole lot of adventure.

When we first knew he was becoming the franchise’s majority owner, the only thing we could really assume was that he would spend wildly. This wasn’t the case. Money was spent but not in the way many thought it would be.

In his first offseason as the team’s owner, there is one important lesson I learned about Cohen.

Ted DiBiase was right, even Mets owner Steve Cohen has a price

Wrestling legend Ted DiBiase always said “everyone has a price.” Cohen has his. Advised by Sandy Alderson and Zack Scott, the Mets were unwilling to go and outbid every free agent on the open market. They also didn’t give into Francisco Lindor’s extension demands which were reportedly around $44 million and two seasons more than what he ended up getting.

Like that scene in Braveheart where Mel Gibson continually says “hold” to his men as the English charge, Cohen and his crew didn’t budge. They had a number in mind they would be willing to go to with Lindor and all of the other key free agents they showed interest in this winter. It wasn’t the right strategy to land everyone. Fortunately, it put them in a key spot to sign future free agents and extend others.

So, what does this mean going forward?

Expect the Mets to rarely, if ever, spend too soon

An early extension for players like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, etc. has always been on the minds of fans. Jacob deGrom got too close to free agency before the old front office ensured he wouldn’t leave the Mets.

We’re seeing a similar situation right now with Michael Conforto. The Mets right fielder is a free agent at the end of the season. However, there doesn’t seem to be any momentum to keep him in orange and blue or whatever ugly color scheme they’ll be assigned during player’s weekend.

The urgency to extend Conforto this offseason just wasn’t there for the front office. Any talk of Cohen taking over and handing out an even earlier extension—such as one to younger players still in their arbitration seasons—wasn’t a topic of discussion.

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I do think the current regime’s strategy is to keep the core together as best as they can. With this in mind, I don’t expect anyone to get paid early.

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