sport

Mets can flex muscles in different way if they want Corey Kluber


Mets fans dreamed big once Steve Cohen took over their team. Why not?

No one wins the lottery and envisions upgrading from one bedroom to two. They see the mansion or the penthouse. And, for the faithful, it surely felt like winning the lottery when Cohen’s wallet squeezed out the Wilpons.

He demonstrated the power of deep pockets, especially in this no-spend environment, when the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. Most teams were out on trying for just Lindor because it meant adding $20 million-ish to this year’s payroll and at least determining what it would cost long term to keep the star shortstop beyond 2021. Most clubs were out on just Carlos Carrasco because the two years and $27 million still owed was more than he likely would have received had he been a free agent and cost no player return.

The Mets obtained them both — added both to their payroll bottom line. They introduced Lindor via Zoom conference on Monday and Carrasco on Tuesday. And yet, let’s fast-forward to Wednesday, and an ex-Indians teammate of Lindor and Carrasco, to exemplify that what the Mets can do now is differentiate themselves on the opposite side of the market, too, that is not all mansions and penthouses.

Corey Kluber has a workout scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Cressey Sports Performance in Palm Beach Garden, Fla. About 20 teams, including the Mets, are expected to have a representative in attendance to watch the two-time Cy Young winner throw a 30-pitch bullpen. Cameras will be trained on Kluber, and so will the most modern machinery to determine the spin rate and movement on his pitches.

Teams will sift through the data and what the righty looked like to the naked eye trying to determine how much Corey Kluber is left in Corey Kluber. Of course, it is merely a snapshot. Kluber has made a mere eight starts the past two years as he has been undone by the freak (a fractured right arm via absorbing a line drive) and the worrisome (abdominal and shoulder ailments). Turning 35 in April, Kluber’s chances of returning to even 80 or 90 percent of his dominant 2014-18 form are, what? Ten percent? Twenty? Thirty? It is not great.

But what if the Mets like what they see? What if they like what they see at a time when few other clubs want to take on payroll, even on surer things? What if they like what they see and have Cohen’s wallet as a separator? These, after all, are not Jeff Wilpon’s father’s Mets any longer.

Rich Hill, a quality but injury-prone pitcher, signed last offseason with the Twins for $3 million with $9.5 million in incentives based on innings and starts. Assume that Kluber will fall into the same realm — a low base with a chance to make substantially more with healthy pitching. How many teams in this squeeze-your-dollars atmosphere would even offer Kluber the Hill deal?

For Cohen, therefore, differentiating the Mets may be about offering a $5 million or $6 million base. Marginal money to him. What if the Mets offered $5 million with a chance to make $13 million if Kluber returned fully to being Kluber — 200 innings, for example? That would replicate the $18 million 2021 option that the Rangers declined to make Kluber a free agent.

Again, Kluber is a long shot to ever be that guy again. But if he is, then he is worth $18 million. And the Mets suddenly are the kind of franchise that might be able to risk $5 million-ish to see if that Kluber still lurks.

For, in the best-case scenario, Kluber is installed behind fellow Stetson alum Jacob deGrom in the rotation and moves Carrasco and Marcus Stroman down to arguably the best No. 3-4 combo in the majors, with David Peterson protected in the fifth spot and Seth Lugo and Steven Matz in the pen to provide innings.

Corey Kluber Mets MLB free agency
Corey Kluber is throwing for teams on Wednesday.
AP

In a medium scenario, Kluber slots into the rotation and holds up long enough to form a 2021 tag-team with Noah Syndergaard, due back around June following Tommy John surgery.

In the worst scenario, Kluber never looks anything like his old self. In which case the Mets’ rotation is deGrom, Carrasco, Stroman, Peterson and either Matz or Lugo with Syndergaard percolating. It costs the Mets $5 million, but they are out of the contract after the 2021 campaign.

Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts here. Kluber has to look good Wednesday, the Mets have to be interested, Kluber has to want to play for them and the sides have to agree to that bells-and-whistles contract.

But this should be taken as an indicator of what the Mets can do now. Cohen’s arrival allows their fans to dream of the mansions and the penthouses in player procurement. Welcome Lindor/Carrasco. It also puts them in a better position to be bold on the other side of the market in attempts to find difference makers.

Related posts

Poor-shooting Knicks no match for Raptors

honynews12

Emmanuel Duron banned from Texas HS sports after attacking ref

honynews12

Texas, Oklahoma among best bets

honynews12

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More