When Steve Cohen's purchase of the New York Mets went through, he was joined by new team president Sandy Alderson in a news conference where they shared their plans for the team. Both Cohen and Alderson spoke of the idea of building a sustainable winner with the Mets, which would necessitate improving the team's roster in the short term while building out the farm system for long-term success. With the addition of SS Francisco Lindor and SP Carlos Carrasco to the roster, the Mets are well on the way to acing the short-term goal of being more competitive in 2021.
To accomplish that, though, they had to take a step backward from their long-term goal. It was a very good trade for the Mets, and I have no complaints at all about them doing it, but the fact remains that they gave up two young, controllable major leaguers and two decent prospects from their system to pull off the deal. With the likelihood that the Mets will no longer be in the running for top free agents like George Springer and Trevor Bauer, most likely they will hold onto the second-round pick that they would have lost when signing one of those guys. Still, today they're farther away from the system they hope to have than they were before the trade.
I'm sure that this has been taken into account, and plans are already being implemented to work on long-term solutions. I'd love to be the proverbial fly on the wall, listening in on how Alderson, Porter, and the rest of the crew plan to accomplish that part of the mission. I'm sure that some of the plan would involve doing the best they possibly can to draft impact talent in the upcoming amateur draft. Drafting is an area where the Mets actually have excelled in recent years. Another road, where the Mets have not been doing as well, is signing international players. If there is one way for the Mets to really bring some talent into their system in the short term, it is through this route.
As with the amateur draft, teams are allotted a pool of international bonus money. If they exceed that amount they are assessed a luxury tax on the overage. If they exceed it by more than 10%, they are restricted in the amount of money they can spend on a single player in the following year. We've seen some clubs go really aggressive in their spending in a year, figuring that the one-time large infusion of talent would negate the penalty paid the next season. Now, it's quite possible that Cohen would want to avoid something that might possibly alienate other owners in that regard, but it's something to keep an eye on, at least. If the Mets really want to jump-start their player development, that would be one way they could accomplish that task.
"Assuming that a vaccine is not available to players and staff at the beginning of major league spring training, there is a strong possibility that minor league spring training will be delayed for players who otherwise would be assigned to Double-A, High-A, and Low-A because clubs have informed us that there is not sufficient space at spring training facilities for all of the players in an environment requiring strict physical distancing."
If — fingers crossed — the start of the MLB season doesn't get bumped back, it will be the beginning of April before the minor leaguers can begin their own training camp. So, at the very least, everyone will be getting off to a late start. While we can assume that MLB baseball can begin the season with severe restrictions on fans attending games, minor league teams are extremely dependent on gate receipts for their revenues. Are they going to be willing to start their season with few or no fans? These clubs are already hurting from losing the whole 2020 season. Are MLB teams, already crying poverty themselves, willing to subsidize minor league teams in order to get the season underway?
With all of the delays in the vaccine rollout that have happened already, it's hard to guess at what point this year the turnstiles start clicking in both major and minor league parks. With what we know now, it's unlikely to happen anywhere near in time to get any sort of "normal" minor league season going. It was always going to take a lot of hard work and creativity on the part of the new front office to get the Mets farm system from where it is now to where it needs to be to sustain a winning operation. It's going to take plenty of that hard work and creativity just to keep 2021 from being an obstacle to that goal. It wouldn't shock me at all if plenty of MLB clubs don't come up short when it comes to player development in 2021 but, if the Mets are serious about joining the league's elites, they can't afford to do that. This is definitely going to be something to watch in the coming months.
I'm signing off for today. Thanks for stopping by. Please stay safe, be well and take care. Let's go Mets!
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