Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning during Game 1 of a best-of-five American League Division Series baseball game in Houston, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Steve Cohen funding Mets’ historic payroll

Steve Cohen, the owner of the New York Mets, has gone on a historic spending spree this offseason in MLB free agency.

Cohen is the richest owner in baseball. He bought the Mets in 2020 for $2.4 billion. When he took over the team he told fans that he expects to win and wants to win a World Series in the first five years of owning the team.

Cohen has put his money where his mouth is this offseason.

Diaz Extension

The offseason started with Cohen extending his All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to a lucrative contract.

Diaz undoubtedly had the best year of his career in 2022 and was the best closer in baseball. Cohen rewarded Diaz by making him the first closer to make more than $20 million annually and eclipse the $100 million mark.

Losing out on deGrom

The Mets suffered a crushing blow heading into the MLB winter meetings. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom signed a five-year $185 million contract with the Texas Rangers.

deGrom spent his first nine years in the league with the Mets. He is a special talent and is viewed as one of the best pitchers of this generation. But, deGrom is now 34 years old and has had trouble staying healthy the last few years.

The loss was tough for the franchise and fans who thought the star pitcher would be a Met for life. But, Cohen made sure that fans had plenty to be happy about this holiday season.

Cohen’s Response

After losing out on Degrom, the Mets pivoted to reigning American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.

https://twitter.com/SNY_Mets/status/1599818517724860417

Verlander inked a deal with the mets for $86.7 million over two years. He is 39 years old and still dominant. He posted a 1.75 ERA in 2022 and was the ace of the Houston Astros, who won the World Series last year.

The Mets staff is now highlighted by a two-headed monster in Verlander and Max Scherzer. Both older pitchers, who are Cy Young winners and have World Series experience.

The Mets would add another veteran starter just days later in Jose Quintana.

Quintana had a great year in 2022 with a 2.93 ERA. He signed a two-year $26 million deal with the Mets to strengthen the middle of the rotation.

The spending didn’t stop there as the Mets then extended their 29-year-old center fielder Brandon Nimmo.

Nimmo, a homegrown talent for the Mets, plays excellent defense to go along with a lefty bat for New York. The deal locks him in to be with the team for the next eight years.

Up next on the menu for the Mets was relief pitching. So minutes after extending Nimmo, news came in that they inked a deal with veteran reliever David Robertson.

Robertson is 37 and has tons of postseason experience. He will be a reliable arm in the bullpen to set up Diaz in the ninth.

The rich did get richer just days later as the Mets inked Kodai Senga, a right-hander from Japan, to a five-year $75 million dollar contract. Senga was one of the most sought after arms on the market.

He was an ace pitcher in Japan and has the stuff to front-line a rotation in the MLB. The Mets who had already invested over $100 million to their starting pitching this offseason, splurged some more, pushing the envelope on MLB spending in free agency.

How far will Cohen go?

After Cohen spent big in first free agency last offseason, the MLB implemented stricter thresholds of tax on payrolls. This referred by the media and baseball fans as the “Steve Cohen tax.”

Cohen is a hedge-fund billionaire and has shown that his willingness to spend will have no limit. Not even with the MLB’s new increased tax rules.

After the Mets recent signings, they will have a payroll well over $300 million. With the new tax rules, there are multiple thresholds for teams to pass. As payroll crosses each one of these thresholds tax will increase.

As it stands now, the Mets are projected to pay over $400 million dollars after taxes this year. That is $400 million dollars that Cohen is investing into this years team alone.

It is something that baseball or any sport for that matter has ever seen. The question is, how far will Cohen keep going?

General Manager Billy Eppler hinted in a recent press conference that the team could be looking to add some more offense in free agency. The spending may not be done yet.

 

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