The Mets have been criticized by fans and the media during their recent dealings for refusing to pay off the salaries of the players they have sent to other teams. The theory goes that if the Mets were less cheap and paid the players that they agreed to pay anyway, that they would get better prospects back in return. So far this summer, the team has traded away Lucas Duda, Jay Bruce, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker without receiving what anyone would consider an exciting prospect.
In his Wednesday press conference, general manager Sandy Alderson explained that this was all by design. Not the unexciting prospects, but the shedding of salary that is seen as the cause. According to the veteran executive, he had to persuade ownership to go over budget this season with the promise that he would trade away salary if the team didn’t contend. Although Duda and Reed were going to be under contract this year barring a non-tender or two, the Mets made decisions over the offseason to exercise Bruce’s $13 million 2017 option and give Neil Walker a qualifying offer that kept him in Queens for $17.2 million.
With New York floundering in mid-July, Alderson followed through on his pact and began trading away veterans who would not be under contract in 2018. The primary goal was not to bring back more affordable talent that could help the franchise in the future, but rather to unload as much salary as possible. That’s pretty sad considering that optimistic fans have been hoping year after year that the Mets are finally over their financial woes that have been in place since it was revealed that the Wilpons lost money in the Bernie Madoff scandal.
Even two years removed from a National League pennant, many fans have had enough of their team fielding payrolls that are comparable to those of small-market clubs. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, it wouldn’t be crazy to call the Mets contenders for the biggest free agents available, but nowadays, no one considers Queens a possible landing spot for talents like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado that could once again establish New York as a destination for the best players in baseball.