Why Mets fans should not be hitting the panic button after free agent 'misses'

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Danny Abriano
·5 min read
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George Springer and Brad Hand TREATED ART
George Springer and Brad Hand TREATED ART

When the Mets "lost" George Springer to the Toronto Blue Jays, there was an angry eruption from a large portion of the fan base. When they "lost" Enrique Hernandez to the Boston Red Sox, there was a much smaller rumble of dissatisfaction. And when they "lost" Brad Hand to the Washington Nationals, things really started to boil over.

On Sunday, a big swath of Mets fans on Twitter and elsewhere were bemoaning the Mets' recent misses in free agency, with many of them claiming that new owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson have failed to deliver on their big talk.

Before getting into what's happened recently on the free agency front, I'll take a second to remind Mets fans that the team recently traded for Francisco Lindor, a 27-year-old superstar who is one of the best two-way players in all of baseball.

We'll go deeper into Lindor situation below, but let's first unpack what has happened over the last week or so, including why "lost" is in quotations above as it pertains to Springer, Hernandez, and Hand...

The Mets, after a long pursuit of Springer that cooled off after they traded for Lindor, saw him go to the Toronto Blue Jays for $150 million over six years.

Per SNY's Andy Martino, with Lindor on board, the Mets simply chose to focus on extending Michael Conforto over outbidding the Jays for Springer.

The above caused many to exclaim "why not both?"

The answer is that regardless of Cohen's billions, teams do not operate in a fashion where megadeals are handed out like candy -- like it or not.

And when it came to the Mets and Springer, they did not lose out on him as much as they chose to go in a different direction.

Shortly after the Springer news, Enrique Hernandez -- whom was a Mets option -- wound up with the Boston Red Sox, who will likely use him in an everyday role. It did not make sense for the Mets to offer that.

Then on Sunday, Hand -- whose signing with the Mets once appeared very close -- instead wound up with the division rival Nats for $10.5 million over one year.

Why didn't Hand sign with the Mets? According to multiple reports, the Mets' offer was in line with the Nats' offer. But Hand wanted the opportunity to close, which the Nats are expected to give him. The Mets already have a closer, Edwin Diaz, who was among the most dominant relievers in baseball in 2020.

So as was the case with Springer, the Mets didn't really "lose" the bidding for Hand.

Does that mean that Mets fans shouldn't be upset over Springer, Hernandez, and Hand winding up elsewhere? Of course not.

Fandom is supposed to be emotional, and the reactions of many angry Mets fans is at least understandable. But that doesn't mean those reactions aren't also irrational -- especially when you take the full picture into account, understand what the Mets have already done this offseason, and realize that more will be done.

So what have the Mets done?

They added James McCann as their starting catcher, signed Trevor May to be a key cog in the back end of the bullpen, and swung a blockbuster deal that landed Lindor and Carlos Carrasco in Queens.

That the Lindor and Carrasco trade has been so quickly brushed aside by many should not be surprising in a "what have you done for me lately" town. But that some are discounting it because it wasn't a pair of free agent signings is patently absurd.

And while it is true that Lindor is signed through only 2021, it will be a surprise if the Mets do not lock him up to a deal worth perhaps as much as $300 million before spring training ends.

Beyond the situation with Lindor is a desire by the Mets to extend Conforto, which would take at least $100 million and likely a good deal more.

Signing your own players to extensions, while not as flashy as nabbing free agents and seeing them in your team's cap and jersey for the first time, is incredibly important. And in the case of Lindor and Conforto, it costs boatloads of money.

I wrote last week that fans should not be blindly on the side of any team that treats the $210 million luxury tax threshold as a hard salary cap. And the Mets might yet exceed it, possibly by signing Trevor Bauer.

But regardless of whether the Mets sign Bauer or not and whether they exceed the tax or not, they are not done this offseason.

Adding a center fielder remains on their list, as does signing another reliever. Alderson also seems uncomfortable with the idea of J.D. Davis playing third base, so keep an eye on the hot corner for another potential upgrade.

And as is noted above, huge extensions for Lindor and Conforto are also very possible.

It is understandable for fans to be restless and even disappointed because of what has happened over the last week. But one week does not erase the massive work that has already been done this offseason, and does not portend what is to come.

This is still very much a new day for the Mets -- a team that has already been transformed into a legitimate World Series contender.