Just sign him! All he costs is money! It’s something you’ll hear plenty this winter from New York Mets fans demanding a better team next season. I get it. Free agency is the easiest way to build a team quickly.
But there’s a roadblock that can get in the way. For the 2022 Mets, it goes all the way back to their inability—or reluctance—to sign 2021 first-round pick Kumar Rocker this past summer.
Because the Mets and Rocker were unable to come to an agreement, the Mets will now have the 11th pick in next year’s draft. Match this with the 14th overall pick they earned due to their poor record this past year, the club should have a chance to add two top-notch amateur players.
This won’t be the case if the Mets sign any of the players who may turn down a qualifying offer. The sacrifice there is giving up your second-highest draft pick. For the Mets, their second-highest is a rare first-rounder at an amazingly high 14th overall.
No free agent is worth the Mets throwing away the 14th overall draft pick
Does a guy like Carlos Correa make the Mets better? He sure could. But even disregarding how unnecessary he is to add to the club and see if he can play third base (please don’t do this), signing him this winter or any other qualifying offer player comes with punishment to the farm system.
Look at it this way. Brett Baty was drafted 12th overall in 2019. Would you trade him for one of the big free agents this winter while also having to take on their immense salary?
If you answered yes, I get it. There’s enough logic to it. You’re impatient. You’re not sure what Baty will become.
Consider this. Rather than add a player that rejected a qualifying offer, how about pivoting to one of the players ineligible to cost you a draft pick?
This pool of players might not be as large but it includes plenty of talent. Rather than sign Correa, the Mets could simply add Kris Bryant or invite Javier Baez back. Both were traded mid-year which eliminates the QO attachment to them. Not to mention, Baez was with the Mets so bringing him back wouldn’t cost them anything anyway.
None of the starting pitchers expected to get a QO are quite worth it. Do you have enough faith in Robbie Ray to replicate his season while also sacrificing more than money to bring him here? Why not, hypothetically, just trade Baty for a less-costly pitcher of similar value and then sign another free agent?
Last winter, the Mets did a fine job at not subtracting much from the organization. They repeated this at the trade deadline—for better or worse.
I’m all for trading minor league players to acquire talented big leaguers. Adding free agents that come with the price of more than just dollars and cents is different. It’s like getting a credit card that has a fee on it.
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Signing a free agent that also sacrifices such a high draft pick flies in the face of everything the team preached for the last year. Pardon my language, but it’s a very Brodie Van Wagenen thing to do.