Mets go Black Friday shopping but have a bigger fish they're trying to bait, and the return of the entertaining offseason by accident
The Mets and Max Scherzer reportedly are close to agreeing on a record-breaking deal, but it's not done yet.
What’s Up with the Mets? 💭
The Mets signed a few players off their wish list over the holiday weekend, reportedly signing Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Cahna for versatility, while also landing a big bat in Starling Marte on a four-year deal (Post). Cahna and Escobar both received two-year deals. (CBS Sports)
The Mets are trying to land future hall of famer and free agent RHP Max Scherzer, according to multiple reports. They are close to signing him to a three-year deal worth approximately $42 million per year, the highest average annual value ever. (SNY)
One free agent pitcher who doesn’t seem to be on the Mets’ radar is Marcus Stroman, according to the pitcher himself. (New York Post)
After making a more aggressive offer, the Mets lost out on free agent RHP Kevin Gausman, as he took a five-year, $110 million deal to join the Blue Jays. (ESPN)
With the collective bargaining agreement expiring this week, a lockout could potentially benefit the Mets to give them time to find their next manager. (New York Post)
The off-season is fun again, albeit by accident 📝
Once upon a time, baseball free agency was exciting.
Teams were willing to pay for marquee superstars to play for them and in the process create excitement, energy and buzz around their fanbase, and the game in general. Of course, it was usually the Yankees who were willing to pay up, but every once in a while there would be a shocker, like when Alex Rodriguez ended up in Texas with a record deal at the time (and then of course he ended up with the Yankees). Along with the Rangers, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, Angels and maybe a few others, the pre-Madoff Mets were also big players in free agency, like when they acquired Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez in the same offseason.
Then things changed not only for the Mets but throughout baseball. The Astros were among the many clubs that tanked and won a World Series (with some help of course), so the focus shifted from winning to hoarding draft picks, valuing the almighty prospect and winning on the cheap. The bottom line became more important than big bats. Baseball became very top-heavy financially, as paying players was secondary to saving billionaires some money. In some years, as was the case in 2019, many top free agents didn’t sign with a club until late in the off-season, and some free agents held out entirely, hurting themselves as well as the fabric and brand of the game.
Of course, this year is a bit different.
With a lockout looming this week, it created a free agent frenzy that made the baseball offseason fun again, especially with the Mets. Not a single Mets fan went to bed on Sunday night waiting for Max Scherzer to make his decision on his next destination (as of this writing, we are still waiting). Executives forgot they are in the entertainment business, and signing free agents is entertaining and good for business. It creates excitement for fans and players alike. Villains and rivalries are borne out of a player leaving for a hated team. NBA free agency is always bonkers, and surprise, surprise basketball is more popular in the United States than baseball is.
It should not have taken an impending lockout to make the baseball offseason fun again. Major League Baseball has been it’s own worst enemy, especially when the suits haven’t been able to see past their bottom line. Fans have the potential to be more invested than ever with social media, and streaming makes the game more accessible to fans everywhere.
It’s weird to say Mets fans have been the lucky ones so far with an owner willing to go for it but there is absolutely nothing stopping most of the other 29 teams from doing the same. If there is a lockout there is an even greater danger of losing fans who are already both cynical and apathetic towards the game, especially if it gets ugly between the two sides (the two sides already can’t seem to agree on what day of the week it is, for what it’s worth). If those in charge could just see past the almighty dollar the game would be a lot better for it.
Addendum by Michael Baron…
As Linda said, baseball and all of professional sports is a part of the entertainment business on the consumer side in the end. So, if the league and the players recognize what’s good for them and good for the sport, they will build a free agency deadline into the next collective bargaining agreement. There are so many areas of the game dehumanizing the game which both erodesand makes it less entertaining on a daily basis, but this is one area that can quickly re-engage and re-invigorate a game which has become fairly unpopular compared to the NBA and the NFL (that which already have a free agency deadline). The movement before what is really a self-inflicted pending lockout and the frenzy it caused not just around Scherzer, but Marcus Semien, Kevin Gausman, Jon Gray, Starling Marte, and many other free agent stars is proof that it can work for both sides.
It’s not as if the players are under-performing expectations in the marketplace, either. After all, Scherzer is all but set to land the highest average annual value in a deal ever, whether its from the Mets or elsewhere. Marte, Gausman and Gray landed deals which were both lucrative, fair and expected too.
So why not make the process more fun and entertaining for everyone, and bring the meandering fan back into the fold? Its an easy win for everyone.
Hot Stove 🔥
Marcus Semien agreed to sign a seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $175 million. (MLB)
After opting out of his deal with the Reds, Nick Castellanos is looking for a seven or eight-year deal in free agency. (MLB Network)
The Reds are willing to listen on trade offers for RHP Luis Castillo (MLB Network)
After missing out on Starling Marte, the Marlins agreed to sign outfielder Avisaíl García to a four-year deal worth $53 million. (MLB)
The Mariners acquired All-Star infielder Adam Frazier from the Padres in exchange for reliever Raymond Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier. (ESPN)
Michael Lorenzen is headed to Los Angeles to join the Angels rotation and perhaps play the field. (SB Nation)
Former Rockie RHP Jon Gray is also headed to Texas on a four-year deal. (MLB)
The Dodgers and Rangers are pursuing Corey Seager. (New York Post)