The Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles are two teams that did not have playoff expectations entering 2020, did not have the payrolls of contending teams and, thus, did not have playoff-caliber seasons. The New York Mets did have playoff expectations, did have the payroll of a contending team and, thus... well, they came up short. Their newest signing is likely to change that, however.
On Monday afternoon, the team was reportedly finalizing a three-year, $130 million deal with Max Scherzer, a contract that would pay him more than any other player in league history on a yearly basis.
As it turns out, it's also a deal that would pay him more than the two aforementioned bottom-feeding teams' entire active rosters, so long as they stay relatively similar in their personnel. Based on Cot's Baseball Contracts, a part of Baseball Prospectus, the Pirates and Orioles have estimated opening day payrolls of $40.2 million and $37.0 million, respectively. Both of these figures are smaller than the mind-blowing $43.3 million average salary of Scherzer, as ESPN's Jeff Passan noted.
This isn't exactly what Michael Lewis had in mind when sharing Billy Beane's "Moneyball" story, but hey... as Herm Edwards once said, "you play to win the game," and as Steve Cohen once said (probably), "you pay to win the game."
Scherzer joins Starling Marte and Mark Canha as other big-name acquisitions by the Mets in recent days, giving them a current opening day estimated payroll of $260.6 million, according to that same Baseball Prospectus list. The Yankees ($210.3 million) and the Dodgers ($200.6 million) are the only other $200 million teams, though some upcoming moves in the free agent market could definitely add to those totals.
But can either of them catch Cohen in the spending department? That's unlikely, says Joel Sherman, who thinks the Mets still have some moves left in the tank.
After a disappointing 2021 season, in which the Mets were only able to win 77 games despite a 96-win PECOTA projection and a whole lot of hype from the MLB community, the result in 2022 should look very, very different.