On the day the New York Mets extended manager Terry Collins’ contract, GM Sandy Alderson said he had the resources to make a $100-million plus deal.
Not surprisingly, he backed off that stance at GM meetings in Orlando, telling ESPN: “We’ve been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright. Those were special circumstances. I think it would be difficult to duplicate that again – not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team building.
Just how much the Mets will spend Alderson didn’t say, but for a team in search of offense, it was interesting to see him pass on bringing back Marlon Byrd, who reportedly reached a two-year, $16-million deal with the Phillies.
Undoubtedly, the decision was based more on finances, and there was nothing wrong with Byrd’s clubhouse presence – or production, for that matter – that would chase away the Mets.
Why then did they pass?
Byrd, 36, rejuvenated his career this summer with the Mets and Pittsburgh, batting .291 with a career-high 24 homers and 88 RBI. That’s the kind of production the Mets crave, but considering his 50-game drug suspension the previous season, did the Mets believe it was for real?
Byrd was unquestionably motivated to turn around his career, but at that age the Mets must wonder was 2013 a fluke? One year with incentives with an option would have been acceptable, but two years made Alderson pause. It was the same thing with Jerry Hairston the previous winter. Alderson knew Byrd would want a multi-year deal, and considering he made less than $1 million last year, the thinking was he’d get $8 million for two years at most. Not $16 million.
Byrd, a 12-year veteran returns to Philadelphia, where he began his career. He also returns to a park more conducive to producing higher power numbers.
Alderson appears to want to take Boston’s approach by going with several middle-tier free agents and not relying on the super bat. However, considering what Byrd got, just how much are middle-tier free agents worth?
“I think it’s difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players,’’ Alderson said of $100-million packages. “It’s not really the way you build a quality, sustainable, winning team, I don’t think.’’
The Mets were burned by extending multi-year contracts to players injured, non-productive or too old in their careers. Many of those deals with given by Omar Minaya, but it must be remembered the Mets had a better core than and these players were expected to be the final pieces.
However, things didn’t work out over the long haul with Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Mota, Frank Francisco, Scott Schoeneweis, Moises Alou, Julio Franco, and the list goes on.
Alderson has cleared the payroll and his reluctance to get involved with a $100-million package, or even something like the $66-million given Bay is understandable.
Considering the big picture with Byrd, that might have been a good decision. That could be based on who Alderson does sign, assuming he signs somebody.