Mets owner Steve Cohen met with reporters (including Mike Puma of the New York Post and Anthony DiComo of MLB.com) yesterday to discuss the team’s outlook in advance of the July 30 trade deadline. Most notably, Cohen was asked whether he’d be willing to sign off on a midseason acquisition that pushes the team’s competitive balance tax outlay north of the first threshold of $210MM.
“It’s something to think about because there is a price to pay if you go over for the following year or the year after,” Cohen said. “I am not going to go over for a million or two million. That’s stupid, so if you are going to do it, you are going to do it, so we’ll see what’s available.”
Cohen is alluding to the escalating penalties for teams that surpass the threshold in consecutive seasons. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, a club that exceeds the lowest threshold for the first time is subject to a 20% tax on the overage. Exceeding that threshold for a second consecutive year subjects the team to a 30% tax on the overage, while the club would pay a 50% tax on excess expenditures for a third consecutive season (and beyond) above that mark.
To calculate a team’s CBT ledger, the league takes the sum of the average annual values of each contract on the books in a season- not the actual payroll in any given year. For the Mets, that figure comes in just under $197MM in 2021, in the estimation of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. (Cot’s pegs their actual payroll at approximately $195.4MM). If Cohen is unwilling to go beyond the first threshold, that’d leave New York a little more than $13MM in CBT space for midseason upgrades.
Cohen didn’t explicitly state he’d be unwilling to push the team’s CBT ledger north of $210MM. Rather, he implied that it’d take one (or more) marquee additions for him to deem that worthwhile, based on the belief that the cost of higher potential penalties in future seasons would outweigh the value of making more marginal upgrades. Of course, that assumes the current luxury tax system will remain in the next CBA, which is up for negotiation this winter. The Mets did not exceed the threshold last season under the previous ownership group, so they’d be subject to the first-time payor penalty if they were to do so this year.
New York’s owner also addressed the contractual status of starters Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman. Cohen confirmed the club engaged in preliminary extension discussions with deGrom in Spring Training. Those were never expected to persist into the summer, though, and Cohen indeed shot down the possibility of in-season negotiations. “I’m focused on this year,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right moment (for extension talks). We’re focused on this year, so obviously it’s something we’re thinking about. We love Jacob.” deGrom is under contract through 2024, but his deal affords him the opportunity to opt out at the end of next season.
Cohen also suggested it was unlikely the Mets would discuss an extension with Stroman during the year. The 30-year-old returned to Queens on an $18.9MM qualifying offer over the winter, and he’s since worked to a stellar 2.34 ERA/3.66 SIERA across 84 2/3 innings. Stroman will hit free agency again next offseason, and the CBA prevents the Mets from tagging with a QO this time around.
That deGrom guy is pretty good. Might cost him at least a few million to keep him around.
That’s probably part of the calculus involved in Cohen’s comments about the luxury tax and him alluding to the escalating penalties for future season overages. Can’t have Degrom and Lindor on huge contracts, keep Alonso, Conforto and McNeil around, build the rest of the team around that core and stay under the luxury tax. Somethings gotta give.
McNeil and Alonso are cheap for a few more years. He only has to retain stroman conforto syndergard…. And than in 2 years renturn to the Degrom situation. It’s a non story.
But signing just those three will be a huge, crippling hit to the budget and those moves don’t even improve the team, they just prevent going backwards. Payroll is gonna be an obstacle. That Lindor contract, ugh.
Let Syndergaard test free agency. See what the market actually is and possibly resign him at that point. His stock has to have fallen greatly, especially if he fails to take the field this year. As he approaches 30 and loses a couple mph, he is going to become much more hittable. Not to mention, with his recent health history, there is no guarantee he will return to the same results he had prior to 2019. I am very suspicious that he understands what it takes for a PITCHER to take make 30 starts, especially as he ages.
His arm may fully recover from his TJS, but what’s next? Shoulder? Lat/oblique? Hamstring? Quad? Hair?
Conforto is gone. Could be traded at the deadline considering Pillar/McKinney are better fielders and aren’t injury prone.
McKinney and Pillar are HUGE downgrades from Conforto. No way he’s getting traded while the team is in it. That would be insane.
RIP Uncle Stevie’s wallet
deGrom to White Sox for Balki Cespedes.
there is a 0.00000000% chance the Mets trade deGrom, especially now that, ya know, they’re in 1st place and I’d assume want to stay there.
And I’d say, with Cohen in place now, there’s a 0.00001% chance deGrom ends up in any other uniform than a Mets one til he retires. In fact, he’s in the $30+ mil per year part of his deal; he actually may NOT even opt out. He may extend early if he I guess “waives” his opt out, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he just stays with the team
I wouldn’t say forever, but see him staying around a few more seasons. Cohen, to me makes a bigger effort to extend him than Stroman, who may be 3y younger, but has been up and down his entire career.
Thought it pretty comical the idea of chisox trading for an ace like deGrom anyway.. Aren’t they the team who traded Sale a few years back when he had multiple years of team control left and didn’t get the main guy (Devers) in the package they wanted?
If deGrom posts an era under 1, wins the Cy Young and is top 3 in mvp, voting which is all plausible if not likely, he will definitely opt out. Doesn’t need to make 50 or so million a year to do substantially better on his next deal, just needs a couple more 20-30 million seasons tacked on the end which he can get.
I don’t know about Balki Cespedes, but I’d do it for Balki Bartakamous in a heartbeat. That guy can sort some mail.
This is perfect, stranger
@at Ted. “Don’t be ‘ree-dick-oo-lus.”
Love that show and still watch it. Ranks right up there in physical comedy with Jack Ritter, Dick vanDyke and the stooges.
I stumbled upon Chaplin a few weeks ago on some obscure channel. It made me appeciate more of how great he actually is.
Glad someone got the “joke.” Whenever I hear his name I instantly think of Balki.
I don’t see the Mets having the money to keep Stroman. It is too bad because he fits perfectly on the team.
The Mets have stupid amounts of Monopoly money, google who their owner is and re-read the article. Cohen is not going over the limit for $1mm, if he goes over, it will be like the Dodgers are over, by a lot.
Your comment must be, will Stroman fit in their budget if they hover need the line, like the Yankees are appearing to do.
Monopoly money, lol. That’s not how it works. cohen’s dollars may give them a leg up on most teams but there is still gonna be a payroll limit and they’re already close to it. The fact that Cohen has cash in no way means the Mets are going to blow away all other team payrolls so let’s stop pretending it does. They’re not gonna run a 300 million dollar payroll.
But his AMC holdings has increased in value last week. He passed “GO” and can easily take 5% of his profits and place it towards next years’ payroll.
Goose, I think he fits perfectly with the current roster of ‘replacemets’, but I’d be concerned with a guy that gets as many grounders as Stro does, if the Mets load their infield with ‘bat’ first guys again.
Being a Mets fan, I remember early on this season where the Mets defense would let you down giving extra outs regularly.
That’s changed since the ‘bats’ are all injured.
One more point to your point is the way pitchers are striking out more hitters (and balls are leaving the yard easily), Stro does fit well as it stands.
“are *not* leaving the yard easily”
“I am not going to go over for a million or two million. That’s stupid, so if you are going to do it, you are going to do it, so we’ll see what’s available.”
It’s not stupid at all though, if it gets you a title. You already are profiting more than the penalty, so ts not stupid at all. Sell the team if you are too cowardly to make money a complete nonissue. Proves you aren’t fit or wealthy enough to own a team in the first place. Pure broke boy talk.
It depends on whether or not he intends to be a perpetual offender or not. If you plan on occasionally busting the cap, then it would be stupid to not bust it this year.
OTOH, if you are going to join the LAD, NYY, BRS club, and cycle 3 years on and one year off, then using 1 of your 3 years on-cycle, to bust the cap by $1M, then it would be stupid.
And maybe explain what courage has to do a payroll cap?
What an amazingly ignorant comment
You completely misconstrued his comments – apparently because you have worked up some kind of personal hatred for the guy. How any true Mets fan could actually actively hate the new owner is beyond me, but Cohen is talking about going big – saying if he’s going to go over that threshold, he’ll do so in a big way with important acquisitions instead of just barely surpassing the threshold with minor pick-ups.
At this point of the year, how many $1-$3 million acquisitions are made that completley change a team’s outlook on their chances to make a deep playoff run? There’s almost no point in some minor acquistion that barely breaks the lux tax threshold. Might as well go all in if you break it.
Higher payroll just means you spend more. It doesn’t get you a title. Statistically speaking your chances are still much higher that you WON’T win a championship. That’s why it’s dumb. Start the click on cumulative penalties to spend an extra 3 million? Just dumb. More money doesn’t equal victory. The assumption that they’ll profit more than the penalty is false, especially since a high payroll can still fail, then where are you? The idea that going over the luxury threshold equals guaranteed success, in the field and with the budget is beyond naive.
I believe Cohen’s point was if he goes over he’ll go over big time!
Not much I like less than posts like this and reading all the entitled fans of the team show up acting as if they are captains of finance. For every team like this there are 3 like the Pirates who couldn’t care less about winning. It doesn’t make for good competition or a fun sport to follow.
Most teams care about winning. As often as not, it is a s/t desire to win that impedes l/t success. The Pirates biggest issue is that they went all-in in 2018 by acquiring Archer. Had they cared less about winning, they’d have stuck with Glasnow & Meadows.
It is the same with all the laggards. The Tigers went all-in with Miggy, VMart, etc., and they paid a huge price. BA stuck with Machado way too long. The Rox extended Arenado. All these teams made these moves to try to win, when they should’ve tried harder to lose.
But… but… but… high payrolls with big name vets is the only way to win, right? Big contracts don’t usually just end up being albatrosses without leading to the WS, right?…. right?
As a Mets fan, I’m thrilled with this statement, because it means that he is planning to be over the limit for the next few years
I read it as he’s unlikely to go over this year, but once he knows the game rules with certainty post the new CBA, he’ll then go over.
I don’t get the obsession fans have with super high payroll. If they win it’ll be IN SPITE of the big dumb contracts, not because of it. High payroll does not equal winning. It equals zero roster flexibility.
Walker should be a higher priority than either right now.
Taijuan Walker is signed to a multi-year contract already, right?
You can’t be serious. Walker is under team control for next year
But he’ll be cheaper. There is a limit to how many mega deals one team can have and this team is about to hit that limit (before they’re even a powerhouse on paper.)
Shot out to Cohen for making a mockery of the system ! Yuge market teams only care about the cap in terms to perception of how other owners view them and how the league shuns doing so. Hope he blows right past that pathetic threshold !
He’ll blow past it, they’ll still fail to win it all, and fans will whine as the Rays and A’s continue to succeed by spending smart rather than just spending big.
everyone forgets the elephant in the room
The Mets cant hit.
The elephant is that if the rest of the NL East gets it together the Nets are gonna be a perpetual 3rd place team with an absurdly bloated payroll.
Not a Mets’ fan, but they have the best team in the NLE, with little doubt in my mind. They’re 4 games up on Philly, with McNeil, Comforto, Nimmo, Davis, and Luccesi on the DL, with some small chance that Syndergaard might return.
None of the NLE look like they can play better than the .554 that the NYMs are playing now. DeGrom is always an injury candidate, and Diaz still has a meltdown gene, but they are the class of the NLE.
@Dan Hunter, NOBODY is hitting anymore. Team batting averages are so low, it’s all relevant. Someone hitting .250/.350/.450 is a superstar today.
Getting back O’Neil, Conforto, Davis and Nimmo only makes this team better because Rojas can mix and match Pillar, Villar and Peraza every single game.
If this team clicks on offense, look out. The positive sides to all these injuries is the playing time the bench players have received and they will be (hopefully) healthy for the second half. Remember, the Phils, Braves and Nats will all have more injuries too. Not to mention, they haven’t been able to put the Mets away starting just 3 regulars pretty much the entire first half!
Expect new guidelines in the next CBA; owners REALLY don’t care about it, especially the monoliths like NY and Boston. But if they increase it, it saves some marginal profitability.
They DO care about Revenue Sharing, especially when teams like the Rays (who would wither and die without it) routinely kick their collective backsides. That’s the issue that’s going to drastically change next year. Not unlike the old days in Europe, when the condemned were expected to “tip” their executioner.
The only thing to consider about the new CBA? The owners will come out ahead.
I’d like to see the Mets stay below the luxury tax threshold.
If the Rays can compete year after year on a $68 million (this year) payroll, there’s no reason for any team to spend like an aircraft carrier worth of drunken sailors.
I don’t know why you started playing and watching sports but fairness was a big selling point for me. But hey did Steve Cohen grow up playing the game? I doubt it. So much of a disconnect between between guys playing and the guys making decisions.
The Rays get hits and Rbi’s.
Look the Mets have pitching and defense what they do not have is offense.
Do the Mets have defense?
Yes. The Mets have defense until their regulars come back
Money should not be an issue in NY unless the fans stay home! Also, you have a huge TV market! Of course,this assumes things do not deteriorate much more in NY! If your current environment gets worse, no one with any money will want to live in NY. Sorry,,just the reality of your city!
Money is always an issue, doesn’t matter where you are. Payrolls in NY are higher, have a higher limit, but saying money shouldn’t be an issue is wrong. No matter where you are, there is a limit to how high you’ll let your payroll go. (And spending doesn’t equal winning anyway. Most mega deals do more harm than good.)
Heavens forbid if a multi-billionaire is trying to run an independent profitable business in NY while trying to win at the same time. Let’s_bloat the payroll to $400M+ and pretend fan market saturation is limitless.
Why do fans care about payroll? These owners have portfolios worth more money than we can imagine.
Cohen didn’t get into this game years ago to own a team in Tennessee. He wants to bring championships to Queens. Let his business managers worry about his investments.
Cohen and Alderson seem to value quality, quantity AND chemistry. I don’t think they bring in just anyone, but will add the ‘right’ guys. I’m sure there are plenty of Mets scouts at the ballparks of teams who may be selling. The problem is, what do we still have to offer? The blue chip piece is Mauricio. Unless he’s moving to 3b or 2b to fit with the Mets, trade him for a couple of pitchers and a CF with multiple years of control. I’m looking the Twins, here.
Because we live in reality and know that there is only so high a payroll can go. So when you have a high payroll, mediocre team, fans start thinking about budget because that’s gonna matter when trying to improve the team in the future. I don’t see why that’s so hard to get.
I can’t see them retaining Conforto,Syndergaard and Stroman especially with Cano’s money coming back on and Lindor getting paid $12 more mil next year than this year. Hopefully the (DH) comes next year to the NL, than Cano can DH, and McNeil plays 2B with D.Smith in LF, Pillar (or Crowe-Armstrong/Lee) in CF and Nimmo in RF, when Conforto comes back if he does good trade him for a SP or bullpen arms. Syndergaard has to prove himself to get a big deal so next year if he wants more than $5-$10 mil let him go and resign Stroman. Their rotation will still be good with deGrom,Stroman,Walker,Carrasco and ? Peterson
I’m not to enthusiastic about a plan A with Cano as DH. Cano has to earn his way back into everyday play.
Let Conforto go. Over rated talent and lots of good young guys in minors that can play or be converted to OF. They are winning without him and don’t need a Boras headache to deal with. Sign Stroman, pitching wins games.
I like Conforto but he’ll probably cost too much. As for lots of guys in the minors they could convert to OFrs? No one close to MLB ready.
Check out the talent in the A league. They have a couple of kids that could play next year.
Resigning Stroman won’t necessarily be all that easy. If he keeps pitching as well as he has, he’ll be in high demand