Mets fans may have gone to bed in a damper mood, or even woke up to a few messages from Twitter or wherever they get their sports news upset. George Springer is heading to Toronto to become a Blue Jay instead of wearing the blue and orange next season in Flushing.
But don’t fuss, it’s really not the end of the world. In fact, it might be a blessing in disguise for the Mets.
Springer was no doubt the best two-way outfielder on the market for a reason. His defensive metrics in center field are great, and the pop off his bat is phenomenal. But the Blue Jays reportedly outbid the Mets, agreeing to a six-year pact worth $150 million. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Mets’ top offer ranged between $120-125 million, which is still a good chunk of change from owner Steven Cohen & Co.
Signing Springer to that big of a contract would’ve made number crunching tough for the Mets when it came to extending these two key pieces to the puzzle despite Cohen’s new cash influx. They have roughly $29 million before hitting the luxury tax, though Cohen is willing to go over that mark if need be. He is obviously aggressive in bolstering the roster, but the new owner also doesn’t want to pay too stiff a tax right away for signing all the top guys. It just closes the championship window more because players are going to want their money down the road.
Though they were vague when asked about it, Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson traded for Lindor knowing that an extension was the hopeful outcome. It could come before first pitch in the 2021 season, and that would be the best-case scenario for the Mets.
Even better is extending Conforto and locking in the Mets’ right fielder for years to come. His smooth lefty stroke broke out for a .322/.412/.515 slash line with nine homers and 31 RBI over 54 games in the shortened 2020 campaign. Considering he’s a free agent at the end of the season, too, making sure he is a part of the future before he even ponders what free agency could be like is a priority at the top of the list.
And then there’s more options in center field as well. Jackie Bradley Jr. is still on the market and could be the next move for the Mets. His defensive metrics are some of the best in the game, and though he may not be hitting the ball over the fence like Springer does often, his career .321 on-base percentage because of his good eye at the dish would be a big plus for New York. Oh, he also crushed 21 homers in the 2019 season, so the power can come from JBJ.
The reliever market can also be pursued more aggressively, too, as the Mets have been in on guys like Brad Hand and Jeremy Jeffress.
So, while Springer would’ve made this lineup arguably the best in MLB when healthy, not landing that big fish gives the Mets more flexibility to pursue other options this season and beyond. More importantly, it may also lead to a multi-year extension for one or two players vital to the team’s future.