3 New York Mets stealing money from the team due to a bad contract

Feb 16, 2023; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches during spring training workouts. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2023; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga (34) pitches during spring training workouts. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports /
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New York Mets
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is not afraid to spend money in an effort to win, but these three players are still stealing money from the team this season.

MLB owners often like to plead poverty, and how they just can’t spend to keep or court a lot of talented players. New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is not one of those, willing approving huge contracts for Francisco Lindor, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, etc.

The Mets have the highest payroll in baseball this year, by a sizeable margin.

  1. New York Mets 2023 payroll: $330,643,332
  2. New York Yankees, 2023 payroll: $267,954,047

Cohen’s fellow owners think he’s making a mockery of the system, in part by willingly taking on a hefty luxury tax bill. But here’s what he recently told ESPN’s Jeff Passan (subscription required) about that. Hat-tip to The Score for the quotes.

"I’ve heard what everyone else has heard: that (owners) are not happy with me,” “I hear things from people who are maybe more neutral – that they’re taking a lot of heat from their fans. I kind of look at that like, you’re looking at the wrong person. They’re putting it on me. Maybe they need to look more at themselves. I’m not responsible for how other teams run their clubs,” he continued. “I’m really not. That’s not my job. And there are disparities in baseball. We know that to be true. I’m following the rules. They set the rules down, I’m following them.”"

Spending big can be a slippery slope, and it’s not guaranteed to yield deep postseason runs. But Cohen will do what it takes to assure the Mets are adding talent to improve the on-field product, with little or no regard for cost.

Still, these three players are stealing money from the Mets this year due to a bad contract.

NY Mets: 3 players who are stealing money due to a bad contract

3. SP Carlos Carrasco

Carrasco was mostly healthy last season (29 starts), and he pitched pretty well (3.97 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.3 WHIP, 3.53 FIP). He fell short of activating a $14 million 2023 vesting option, pitching 152 innings when he needed 170. But the Mets did him a nice solid and picked it up anyway.

Leaving aside the shortened 2020 season, when he was still with the Cleveland Indians and pitched well (2.91 ERA, 10.9 K/9), Carrasco made a total of 35 appearances and 24 starts over 2019 (with Cleveland) and 2021 (with the Mets) full, normal seasons. Over those seasons he had a 5.59 ERA. His fastball velocity is trending down, and his ERA+ last year (97) reflects a below-average pitcher.

Carrasco will turn 36 before the season starts (Mar. 21). So even without his recent history, he’d be a significant injury risk. The signing of another pitcher on this list feels like a way for the Mets to try to cover themselves for a Carrasco absence, even as general manager Billy Eppler has talked about the possibility of using a six-man rotation to keep arms fresher.

The Mets should have let Carrasco explore free agency, after his option didn’t automatically vest. Then, maybe and/or likely, they could have brought him back at a far cheaper rate if they wanted to. But they said ok to paying him $14 million this season. Even if the sentiment attached was solid, and it was a goodwill gesture other players will notice, there’s virtually no chance he delivers value for that salary.