The new collective bargaining agreement included a new penalty tier for teams that exceed the luxury tax ($230MM this season) by more than $60MM. This tier was almost immediately nicknamed “the Steve Cohen tax,” in regards to how the Mets owner has been willing to spend to the utmost on upgrades for his team’s roster. Cohen himself isn’t too worried about either the new tax threshold or being personally attached to it by name, telling The New York Daily News’ Deesha Thosar and other reporters that “the way I describe it is, it’s better than a bridge being named after you or something like that.”
While $290MM+ is “still a lot of money to spend on a payroll, I don’t feel like it’s so confining that I can’t live with it,” Cohen said, noting that the Mets will indeed “probably” exceed the top tax threshold. Roster Resource projects that the Mets are already around the $285.5MM mark for this season’s tax number, and with some needs still left to address on the roster, it isn’t any surprise that Cohen isn’t suddenly putting the brakes on spending. Since the Mets didn’t exceed the tax threshold last season, they would be penalized at the “first-timer” rate of 80 percent on the overage of any dollar spent beyond $290MM, plus their top pick in the 2022 draft would be moved back 10 places.
More from Queens…
- Mets GM Billy Eppler and manager Buck Showalter spoke with reporters (including Deesha Thosar and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo) today, and the nature of those future roster reinforcements was one of the many topics discussed. “I’d be fairly surprised if we went after another bat at this juncture,” Eppler said, as New York already added the likes of Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha prior the lockout. Recent reports have suggested that, if anything, the Mets are trying to trade from their surplus of position players, with such names as J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, and Jeff McNeil rumored to be available.
- Jacob deGrom’s health was a major question mark last season, though Eppler said that he doesn’t have any concerns about the ace after consulting with the Mets training and coaching staff. Showalter added that deGrom has also already thrown off a mound. Minor nagging injuries and then a forearm strain limited deGrom to only 92 innings in 2021, and he didn’t pitch after July 7. There were some conflicting messages from team president Sandy Alderson, former manager Luis Rojas, former acting GM Zack Scott, and deGrom himself about the exact nature of the injury, which naturally led to speculation over the offseason about deGrom’s status heading into 2022, given the ominous nature of forearm-related injuries.
- With left-handed bullpen help a need, “Brad Hand is on the Mets’ radar,” MLB Network’s Jon Heyman writes. Hand was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in September and he posted a 2.70 ERA over his 13 1/3 innings in New York, righting the ship to some extent after a rough and brief stint in Toronto. It was still a difficult season overall for Hand, who had a 3.90 ERA over 64 2/3 combined frames with the Nationals, Jays, and Mets, and posted his worst strikeout rate (21.9%) since 2015.
- The Mets had some interest in Yusei Kikuchi but “didn’t get far down the road” with the left-hander before he signed with the Blue Jays, SNY’s Andy Martino tweets.
- Brandon Nimmo reiterated his interest in an extension with the Mets, and told Anthony DiComo and other reporters that he would happy to negotiate with the club during Spring Training. Nimmo scheduled to hit free agency after the 2022 season, and while the Mets haven’t yet approached him about a new deal, it could be that the front office is simply busy with the early flurry of transaction possibilities now that the lockout is over.