BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
Who saw this coming?
Certainly not Mets fans. Definitely not Mets owner Steve Cohen himself considering general manager candidates rejected his offer to run the Mets. Mets president Sandy Alderson was not in the loop in all this.
It sure seemed like a tease when baseball insiders mentioned on Twitter about the possibility of Max Scherzer signing with the Mets on Sunday night. Mets fans were in a tizzy. We mentioned tease here because the Mets got burned last year by Trevor Bauer and his agent about likely signing with them just to announce on YouTube that he would sign with the Dodgers. In retrospect, that turned out to be a boon for the Mets since he likely pitched his last game in Major League Baseball as the league is investigating him for an alleged sexual assault.
Speculation turned into reality on Monday when the Mets and Scherzer agreed to a three-year, $130 million contract. This news put the Mets back in the Major League Baseball landscape. It got everyone in town talking something different for a change instead of them bemoaning about another ugly performance by the Jets and Giants despite both of them winning on Sunday.
It was the type of news Mets fans wanted to hear or read. After an offseason that had candidates rejecting the position to operate the Mets, the organization received the type of news they can be happy about for a change.
Most importantly, this was a win for Cohen. Someone finally said yes to his dollars. Someone finally wanted to work for the Mets beside new general manager Billy Eppler.
This wasn’t just your typical run-of-the-mill player. This was a prized free agent of the class of 2021 in Scherzer. A guy that wanted to be here.
You can go talk about money talk and you know what walks. It doesn’t matter. Scherzer put his leap of faith on the Mets that he can win a championship with them during the duration. That’s a step in the right direction. Just maybe now other free agents will follow his lead in the next few years. Think about the time Ivan Rodriguez signed with the Detroit Tigers in the 2003 offseason, and then players like Ugueth Urbina, Magglio Ordonez, and Kenny Rogers followed to start the rebirth of a dead franchise. This is what Scherzer’s signing means in the big picture.
To say it was a great signing is an understatement. We watched how good he was with the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals, and he was excellent for the Dodgers in August and September. He forms the greatest one-two starting pitching duo with Jacob deGrom that would make the Mets a tough out in the postseason if they qualify. He gives them a fighting chance to make the playoffs. In a big game, they can trust him since he shines in that spot.
If the Mets overpaid him, so what? That’s the price to pay in getting a player like him to come here. Cohen backed up his words about paying for the best talent when the opportunity presents itself. It beats the alternative of holding on to the money and not making an effort to win.
This capped off a good weekend for Cohen and Eppler after signing Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha on Friday. The Mets put themselves in a position where they can contend for a playoff spot.
After years of the Mets being bystanders in the free-agent market since 2009, it’s refreshing to see them act like a big-market team and be a player this time around. It’s great to see an owner who is willing to spend to build a winner and field a quality product instead of whining he has no money. For the players that worked for the Mets, this should raise their spirits heading to spring training.
We have waited for Cohen to come up big in getting a key player. He did that in acquiring Francisco Lindor and then signed him to a 10-year extension worth $341 million a day before Opening Day. But we wanted more, and Monday should have been the day Cohen made a statement that he is in to win it.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Cohen in his first year as a Mets owner. The Mets not only failed to make the playoffs, but they had a losing season. He also went to tweet his frustration about the team’s offense this summer.
But on this Monday, he can say he won the day in landing the big prize.