Steve Cohen of the Mets is going all out to win right now

The Mets got a raise with the Steve Cohen tax. They exceeded the $300 million payroll. They are not fulfilled. By the time all of that is calculated — plus penalties — the once-Wilpon-owned organization will be close to $400 million in 2023 players.

Welcome to the new world.

At the top end of the market, money is being spent in spades this offseason. And in this environment, it really helps to have the richest owner in the game.

By agreeing to retain Brandon Nimmo for eight years at $162 million and sign David Robertson to a one-year lease for $10 million, the Mets increased their major league offseason spending by $2.3 billion. Of them, the team in Queens with the duo of Edwin Diaz, Justin Verlander and Jose Quintana is responsible for $386.7 million.

And the Mets still want to add another starter, with Japanese star Kodai Senga at the top of the list. Plus, they could have a few more relievers, and why not some other bats?

In Cohen’s world, it doesn’t make sense to spend money and still come up short. Not when he has the money to cover expenses and his team’s thirst for a championship today.

After hiring Billy Eppler last offseason, Cohen asked his new GM and top lieutenants for a plan moving forward. He listened to different ways of stretching money. Then he insisted that he wanted to win. Now. And the farm system was willing to spend money to cover until it was more in position to help, especially with pitching prospects.

Steve Cohen

To solve the current center field problem, for example, the Mets have been talking to the Diamondbacks about Alec Thomas. But Arizona wanted Brett Baty, and why give up a third baseman of the future who could start in 2023, when Cohen’s money could have reciprocated by keeping Nimmo? This is his way.

That’s why he approved $258.5 million in free agency for Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canja, Eduardo Escobar and Adam Ottavino, a year after agreeing to a 10-year, $341 million extension for Francisco Lindor. The major league cap hit for luxury taxes in 2022 was less than $300 million, with about $30 million in taxes. On “The Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman Show” in September, Cohen said he thought the team would have to win with $300 million in payroll, and indicated what else he might be willing to do in 2023.

It was like that then.

Costs typically rise immediately after a new collective agreement is signed because of the promise of permanent labor peace. She has. The expanded playoffs and the success of the Phillies and Padres in particular have fueled the desire for teams to win. The world is just a little bit away from the worst of the COVID pandemic, and MLB’s revenue has grown positively.

All of this has led to a frenzy this offseason for contracts that have so far been longer and more expensive than expected.

It’s good to be hungry to win and have the biggest wallet on this forum. So $300 million is like yesterday for Cohen’s Mets. This is old math.

With the Nimmo/Robertson deals, the Mets now have 17 major league contracts on the books through 2023, worth $279.83 million in luxury taxes. That includes long-departed Robinson Cano at $20.25 million — the same as Nimmo’s annual value. MLB Trade Rumors estimates that the Mets have $27.15 million in arbitration-eligible players, namely Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. Each team will be charged about $18.2 million to cover benefits and the pre-arbitration money plan.

Add it all up and it’s $325.18 million – pending further updates. That’s more than $32 million more than the fourth tax cap set by the Central Bank last year, an attempt to slow down the Met owner with bigger fines; Hence the Steve Cohen tax. That cap is $293 million in 2023, with a 90 percent surcharge on every penny. The Mets’ tax bill is currently about $58.2 million. Total payroll and tax costs are approximately $383.4 million.

Brandon Nimmo
Brandon Nimmo
Getty Images
David Robertson
David Robertson

The Mets could always trade for Carlos Carrasco (especially if they can get Senga) or a big-money player like Canha or Escobar. But, again, the price is marginal for a $17 billion man. What is not marginal is the desire to win. And Cohen makes it clear, don’t cut wages if it lowers your chances of winning.

To that end, the Mets didn’t want to give up their leadoff hitter because both commodities are hard to come by at a high level. They took a great look at the top four of Nimmo/Marte/Lindor/Alonso and combined it by extending Nimmo’s contract through his age-37 season to keep the annual cost a little lower. Or a little lower in Cohen’s world.

They needed fits for Diaz, and Eppler knew Robertson well and was a fan. Even in his age-37 season for the Cubs and Phillies, Robertson was hitting 30.7 percent of batters with a .173 average. And the Mets know he’s New York/postseason tested and irreplaceable.

Everyone around the Mets should be fine – unbreakable. Because with where the payroll is going, the dollar signs are bullish. Speculation and dollars are rising in Flushing.

Cohen and his team aren’t done yet.


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