As we know, the New York Mets made their first big splash of the Steve Cohen era, acquiring Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland in exchange for a collection of magic beans.
This was obviously really, really disappointing for Blue Jays fans, as many of us had assumed that Lindor would soon end up a Blue Jay. Now that we know that isn’t going to happen, it’s on to the next one.
We’ve heard reports over the past few weeks that the Blue Jays and Mets are the two finalists for George Springer, the top outfielder on the free-agent market. Given the fact the Mets just added a significant amount of payroll with Lindor and Carrasco, logic would indicate that the Blue Jays are now the frontrunner for Springer.
Over at SportsNet New York, Andy Martino points out that the Mets are aiming to stay below the $210 million luxury tax, meaning they’re not likely to sign Springer…
With Lindor on board, the Mets are less likely to sign Springer. Here’s why: The team will not exceed the $210 million luxury tax threshold this offseason. We’re not sure where the notion came from that money is no object for Steve Cohen’s Mets; it certainly didn’t come from Cohen, Sandy Alderson or Jared Porter. And it is far from the truth.
Cohen has already spent prolifically this offseason, to the tune of about $50 million between Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann and Trevor May.
As of right now, New York has roughly $190 million committed to its roster for the 2021 season, putting them about $20 million shy of the luxury tax threshold. Martino also notes that the Mets want to stay $5-$10 million below that ceiling in order to maintain the flexibility to make in-season additions.
So, realistically, the Mets have about $10 or $15 million to work with here, unless, of course, they can find a way to get out from under some albatross money, like the $11.67 million owed to Jeurys Familia or the $6 million owed to Dellin Betances.
According to Martino, before the Lindor and Carrasco trade, the Mets had been willing to offer Springer a five-year deal for somewhat less than $150 million, which is a bit below the $175 million contract he’s seeking. It seems unlikely they would be willing to make such an offer now, unless the report about Cohen not wanting to go over the luxury tax is inaccurate.
Elsewhere, Jim Bowden of The Athletic appeared on MLB Network Radio and said that he believes the Mets are still in play to add Springer…
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 8, 2021
Bowden notes that while fitting Springer under the luxury tax might be a challenge, New York could structure his contract to be backloaded to accommodate the team’s current payroll. This would be just like what we saw when Russell Martin joined the Blue Jays back in 2015.
Of course, the Mets also have another major free agent to deal with on the horizon — Lindor. All reports suggest that the acquisition of Lindor isn’t a one-year rental for the Mets and he’ll be seeking a massive payday on his next contract. Robinson Cano, who’s off the books this year due to a PED suspension, will also be back in 2022 with a salary of $24 million, so that’s another obstacle to consider.
I certainly wouldn’t say Springer joining the Mets is impossible, but it’s really difficult to see them fitting him in given the moves the team has already made this winter.
Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. There’s always a chance that Springer says ‘fuck it!’ and takes a discount to join what appears to be a really, really good team close to where he’s from rather than packing up and moving to Canada, even if the Blue Jays make a superior offer.