Mets owner Steve Cohen saved himself about $47 million a year when Carlos Correa left his negotiations with the Mets to go back to his old team, the Minnesota Twins. Which for Cohen is at least a week’s work, maybe two. (Not kidding, that’s a reasonably fair estimate.)
So maybe that’s really nothing to celebrate.
Cohen also likely pleased other owners when he didn’t run his player tab (plus tax) to close to half a billion dollars, keeping it at a relatively tight $450 million. But Cohen only cares about wins, and fans, not other gazillionaires.
So for him — and many others around the Mets — this was definitely a down day. It’s certainly not a proud day to lose out to the Twin Cities, either one of them.
“It’s a big letdown,” one Met told me Tuesday.
That may all be true. But please, let’s not lose sight of reality.
Correa’s call to take the greater guarantee of $200 million back with the mid-market Twins left the Mets with something close to the same 101-win team that set the franchise record for victories, and if anything, somewhat better since they improved the rotation, the bullpen and the catching.
The decision left as the starting third baseman solid veteran Eduardo Escobar, who happened to be one of the best players in the game in September and one of the team’s better clubhouse guys. And one of the game’s 20 best prospects, Brett Baty, in reserve. And that’s not so terrible, either.
The Mets will be all right. But it didn’t feel that way to them Tuesday.
Cohen who famously told The Post upon agreeing to the $315 million, 12-year deal with Correa in the wee hours of Dec. 21, “We needed one more thing, and this is it,” had very few words upon being asked if he’d like to comment on Correa slipping off to mid-market Minneapolis. Actually, just one.
“Nope,” Cohen said initially.
And that one word said it all. Enthusiasm could be felt through the phone lines back on Dec. 21, when he also told The Post about the Correa signing, “This was important … this puts us over the top.”
On this day there was nothing to say. If Correa wasn’t quite a must-have — and if the team looks better even now than the 101-win version it’s hard to say he was — it was still a downer for the rank and file of the orange and blue.
Nobody was about to celebrate a billionaire 20 times over — we are estimating based on the report Cohen was up 10 percent in 2022, a disaster of a year for most of us financially — getting the chance to hold onto approximately 0.23 percent of his net worth (again, Correa would have cost $47M a year — $25M in salary and $22M in the so-called Steve Cohen luxury tax).
There will be time for regret and recriminations later if anyone wants to engage in that national pastime. Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, was able in the past to work out language amenable to both parties when physicals were flagged in the cases of J.D. Drew, J.D. Martinez, Magglio Ordonez and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. Nobody got hurt later — the two Tigers got to the World Series and the two Red Sox won a World Series.
Maybe Mets doctors — and lawyers — played things too cautiously, but remember that the Giants pulled back after viewing the same MRI. And they needed Correa more. Much more.
Once this got into the hands of lawyers, the Mets seemed to focus on risk rather than greatness and maybe even value. They spent two-plus weeks trying to mitigate their exposure, and the result is that their final offer guaranteed $42.5 million less to Correa than the Twins’ deal did.
The lawyers may have forgotten they work for a man who thrives on risk. Or maybe they worried they didn’t want to hasten what they viewed as Cohen’s one bad bet.
Mets people can use this column as a pick-me-up if they like, and it appears a few of them may need it. You didn’t need to read Cohen’s initial quotes to know how exciting a potential transaction this was. Correa may not have the big RBI numbers old-timers love, but he was a 5.4 WAR player last year and a 7 WAR player the year before. He is a dynamic infielder who would have transitioned easily to third base, as he knew, and proven postseason performer.
“Everyone is disappointed,” one Met said. “If the possibility wasn’t there nobody would have complained. However, the possibility was there to get much better, and it didn’t happen.”
It’s OK to go to be melancholy. It would have been quite a lineup, and that’s something to lament.
“The Braves and Phillies must be very happy today,” the Met said.
That alone also makes the Mets sad. But Buck up Mets, from here your team is still the best in the league.