The New York Mets were pretty aggressive during the offseason, bidding on just about every top free agent available. They were in on George Springer and Trevor Bauer, but a trade ended up being their most important move. And when all is said and done, that will turn out to be OK if they are able to sign one or both of their next targets.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Michael Conforto will be free agents after the season, but the Mets have the power to prevent that. They can sign both to long-term extensions and flex some of that financial muscle they currently boast, having the richest owner in MLB.
Of course, the idea is not spending for the sake of it. But in this case, both targets are young, talented, and with an extensive track record of success. Locking them up would be a coup.
In six seasons and 777 career games, Lindor has a .285 batting average, 138 homers, 411 RBI, a .346 OBP, a .488 slugging percentage, and 28.8 career WAR.
Conforto, who has played all of his career with the Mets, has a .259/.358/.484 line with 118 dingers, 341 RBI and 14.5 WAR.
The Mets have a deadline to deal with
Both men told the Mets they donâ€™t want to negotiate during the season, as it would be a distraction. If they donâ€™t reach a deal before Opening Day, they will test the market.
So, for the Mets, the clock is ticking. But according to Tim Healey of Newsday, the Mets are mentally and financially prepared to spend big in the near future to retain their stars.
“We have plenty of capacity,” Mets president Sandy Alderson recently told Healey. “Whether that flexibility is exercised later this month or next year, we donâ€™t know. But always having options and maintaining that flexibility is important.”
The Mets would prefer to stay under the luxury tax threshold for 2020, which is $210 million, and they are currently around $200 million.
According to Alderson, even the richest organizations like the Mets should pick their spots.
“Big-market teams typically have more choices available to them,” Alderson said. “But you still have to be patient, you still have to be discerning. And you also have to have an eye on the future.
“Itâ€™s easy to, within the framework of one season, spend money on what you hope is a successful year. But you have to keep in mind what the impact of those decisions in the current year are going to have on future years.”