Winning is supposed to bring about prosperity. It certainly has in Kansas City. There, the Royals – reigning World Series champs and winners of two straight American League pennants – have increased their budget on the heels of epic back- to-back campaigns. So far this winter, K.C. has given Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Chris Young new contracts while also bringing in Joakim Soria and Ian Kennedy. In doing so, the Royals are currently looking at a payroll over $130 million, up from $113 million at the start of the 2015 season. The message is clear: Kansas City is committed to success. In Queens, N.Y., however, there is little evidence to support such a sentiment. Like the Royals, the New York Mets also went to the World Series. The “Amazins” got there on the backs of a young, cheap rotation years beyond their age, but ultimately fell short in the Fall Classic. With a taste of winning, people – especially Mets fans – would think New York’s notoriously thrifty owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, would step up this offseason with their team so close to a championship.
The Mets have made some moves – the standouts include retaining Bartolo Colon, signing Asdrubal Cabrera and trading for Neil Walker – but with a present payroll of approximately $106 million, the Flushing faithful is demanding more, and rightfully so. Any devoted Mets fan is paying close attention to what the Royals have done this winter. Considering that New York is among the biggest markets in the country, it is mind-boggling that the Mets have about $24 million less in salary commitments. Considering that Yoenis Cespedes, who spent the second half of 2015 with the Mets, is still a free agent, it is downright frustrating to the point where the fan base wants to pull its hair out.
Back in July, Mets fans were begging the front office to make a move. The team, trotting out a Triple-A lineup on the daily, was failing its star-studded rotation. Realizing that a few additions could make for a legitimate contender, the Wilpons gave general manager Sandy Alderson the go-ahead to acquire Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and, most notably, Cespedes. Just like that, the Mets had a real shot at the World Series, and they eventually wound up there. Don’t the Wilpons want them to get there again? As Cespedes – the power bat the Mets so desperately need – sits in free agent limbo, it certainly does not seem like it. According to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, the Baltimore Orioles were willing to give the Cuban outfielder a five-year deal worth $90 million before the team signed Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161 million pact. The Detroit Tigers just signed Justin Upton, another outfielder, to a six-year, $132.75 million deal. The Royals gave Gordon, patroller of left field, a four-year, $72 million contract.
Surely the Mets, with all the resources that come with playing in New York, could scrape together the funds necessary to offer Cespedes something comparable in an attempt to put a winning product on the field for the second year in a row.
The team’s fans certainly deserve it. They just don’t expect it at this point. Gary Phillips is a journalism from Ramsey, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.