The most telling moment in Wednesday’s virtual introduction of Max the Met came at a time you wouldn’t expect.
It confirmed for the public record that Steve Cohen, after a year of playing nice, is ready to take on one of George Steinbrenner’s more entertaining qualities: not particularly caring about his standing in the greater Major League Baseball community.
For when Steve Gelbs, SNY’s field reporter during Mets telecasts, asked his fellow Steve what he thought his record-shattering investment of $130 million over three years to Max Scherzer signaled to the rest of the industry, the Mets’ owner reacted with the nonchalance of Rodney Dangerfield blasting music throughout the uppity golf course in “Caddyshack.”
“I’m concerned about the New York Mets,” Cohen said during a Zoom news conference. “I’m concerned about the fan base, and I feel like I made a commitment to them. And I want to deliver on that, and that’s what I’m concerned about.”
Delivery received. As the sport veered headfirst toward a lockout Wednesday at midnight into Thursday, the Mets introduced their four newest players, all acquired in a pre-transaction freeze spending spree: Scherzer, outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Just like that, the Mets became exponentially better and far more interesting, not to mention making themselves a threat to post the largest payroll in the game’s history.
The arrival of Scherzer, the future Hall of Famer, moved the needle the most because of its unexpected nature — Scherzer revealed on Wednesday the little-known fact that his family intends to stay primarily in Jupiter, Fla., conveniently close to the Mets’ spring-training headquarters in Port St. Lucie — and its historic dollars. Scherzer’s annual average value of $43.33 million absolutely destroys the previous record of $36 million set by Gerrit Cole, like Scherzer a Scott Boras client, established when the Yankees gave him $324 million over nine years.
“He looks at this as he wants to win a championship and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win,” Scherzer, a member of the MLB Players Association’s executive subcommittee, said of Cohen. “You don’t hear that from owners too often these days.”
Ouch. Like The Boss at the outset of free agency over 40 years ago, Cohen, the richest member of his club, finds himself a favorite … of the players. Which of course is exactly what fans should want of their owner.
Cohen himself played down the 20-plus percent jump upon which he embarked, saying, “I’m not sure it’s comparable [to Cole’s package],” and sure, George Steinbrenner’s son Hal wrote a far larger check to Cole at 29 than Cohen did to Scherzer at 37; these ceilings tend to move incrementally on the ownership side. Cole’s $36 million topped the $35.5 million established by Mike Trout when he signed an extension negotiated by Angels general manager Billy Eppler. When Cohen gave Francisco Lindor $341 million earlier this year, the total importantly beat the $340 million deal that the Padres gave their shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
This figure avoided the increments, Cohen acknowledged, partly because he added “a little bit more for brand-building.” Bully for him, as it did build the Mets’ brand as a club willing to be “a little bit stupid,” a sentiment once voiced by Cohen’s Phillies counterpart John Middleton, to land an elite talent like Scherzer.
“Other players are going to be able to use that number in the future,” a grateful-looking Scherzer noted, and not too long ago, such a reality would’ve prompted commissioner Bud Selig to call his owners and complain about setting such a precedent. Yet Cohen said he hadn’t heard from anyone about this; Selig’s successor, Rob Manfred, not having owned a club as Selig did the Brewers, tends to be far more deferential to his bosses, and besides, he’s pretty busy with the labor talks.
You don’t want Cohen to go full George, firing people left and right (we’ll see if the new GM Eppler and his upcoming managerial hire can provide some much-needed stability), mistreating employees, feuding with players. A little Boss, though, can go a long way toward warming the hearts of a fan base that will embrace a well-intentioned maverick.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)