Cue Frank Sinatra.
“Start spreading the news.”
If you haven’t heard or seen, the New York Mets are back in business. They have rejoined Major League Baseball. They are a big-market franchise that will be run like a big-market franchise.
New owner Steven Cohen didn’t just talk a big game when he bought the team a few months ago. He put his money where his mouth is.
On Thursday, Cohen and the Mets made it loud and clear that they are here to compete, trading for Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco in exchange for a couple of infielders and two prospects.
This wasn’t just a nice trade, it was a division-altering deal. Not only can the Mets compete now, but win and win big. It’s the kind of move others take notice of and signals that you are serious about winning a championship.
The Mets — who didn’t make the playoffs last season — traded for the face of their franchise. Lindor isn’t a guy you hope to be the front man. His ability and star power make him that the second he puts on that Mets uniform.
“He’s obviously done a lot of things over his young life,” Mets’ president Sandy Alderson said to the media via Zoom. “We expect that he’ll continue to do them in New York.”
Overnight, the Mets went from paying their shortstop $600,000 (Amed Rosario) to $17 million. And they will need a boatload of money to sign Lindor to a long-term contract. It was something Cleveland couldn’t afford.
In days gone by, that might have been the case with the Wilpons as owners. Often, the Mets felt like they were run like a mom and pop store. Obviously, it won’t be the case for Cohen, whose estimated net worth is about $14 billion.
Best of all, he’s a New Yorker and grew up a Mets fan. He knows how the Mets have been basically second-class citizens and wants to change that identity ASAP.
The best part about what happened on Thursday is that you have the feeling that the Mets aren’t done, and could add a big free agent, maybe even outfielder George Springer. There is even talk about signing the Yanks’ do-everything guy D.J. LeMahieu, who is loved by Yankee fans.
For sure, Mets fans are just thrilled to have Lindor, who is 27 and is a big-time player, a four-time All-Star in his six MLB seasons. The two-time Gold Glove winner has averaged 29 homers and 86 RBI in his career.
Lindor and the Mets’ starting rotation, make you believe the Mets will be in the mix to win the tough NL East.
And when it comes to the World Series, the Mets have been there more recently than the Yankees. They lost to the Kansas City Royals in 2015. On the other hand, the Yankees haven’t won a title since 2009, or been back to one since.
On paper, the Yankees are loaded and look as if they honestly have a chance to win. But the last few years have always ended up with the Yankees being a day late and a dollar short when it comes to getting back to the Fall Classic.
We get it. New York is a Yankee town. The rich tradition can’t be pooh-poohed. The Yankees have won 27 championships and the Mets just two. It has mostly always been a slaughter when it came to which team wins the back pages of the NYC tabloids.
But Cohen will be different from the penny-pinching Wilpons, who just couldn’t get it right as owners. The Mets haven’t won a World Series since 1986.
Since Cohen took control of the team, the Mets kept pitcher Marcus Stroman for nearly $19 million, signed catcher James McCann to a four-year, $40.6 million deal, right-hander Trevor May to a two-year, $15.5 million contract and re-signed injured pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
Yes, the Yankees have the hardware and the prestige. But the Mets now have the loot to make New York a two baseball team town again.
And it will be the Mets, not the Yankees, in a ticker-tape parade sooner than later.