This is not a repeat: don’t expect the Mets to spend big this offseason


The Mets have gone into the offseason in each of the past several years with no plans to spend money. Not real money, anyway. And certainly not the sort of money fans in New York, who are accustomed to sports teams spending big, would like them to spend.

On some level this has been understandable and even wise. Plunking down a ton of money on a big name free agent is not the best thing to do when you’re rebuilding, and spending money just to spend it makes little sense. On the other hand, there are lots of ways to spend less-than-top dollar that still help a club around the margins. This past offseason, for example, the Mets did little to bolster the bullpen despite there being a number of arms available in free agency relatively late into the offseason. Would that have put them over the top? No. But fans don’t exclusively expect to have the team be put over the top. A few more wins here or there does make paying good money to go to the ballpark a bit more enjoyable.

But, once again, it seems, the Mets are going to play it conservatively this winter. Yesterday Sandy Alderson made comments about the team’s plans, and while he gave some lip service to “flexibility” and being able “to do some things,” the message was nonetheless clear: don’t expect us to chase the big names:

“It’s gonna be prohibitive, but improving a team isn’t always a function of just dollars spent . . . Most of the improvement that came from the Mets this year had little to do with the overall [spending] … so it doesn’t equate. We’ll have some flexibility. We’ll be able to do some things. We just have to see what’s there . . . In addition to the young players that are coming through, we need to add maybe one or two veterans next year . . . That’s the thing about free agents, you’ve got to be careful because they don’t all work out … the quick fix isn’t always the best.”

Expectation management 101.

Again, none of this is unwise on its face. Prudence and the avoidance of big mistakes on the free agent market is smart. But this is also New York. And the Mets, despite sharing the game’s largest market and holding ownership in a lucrative regional sports network, have pretty consistently taken the approach of a mid-to-small market team. This has to grate on fans whose expectations are not the same as those in another city, for better or for worse. And whether that’s fair or reasonable, that’s who the Mets’ fans are, and for a long, long time they have not felt like they are getting what they pay for in terms of ticket sales and in terms of their loyalty.

MLB free agent watch: Ohtani leads possible 2023-24 class

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CHICAGO – The number will follow Shohei Ohtani until it is over. No, not Ohtani’s home runs or strikeouts or any of his magnificent numbers from the field. Nothing like that.

It’s all about how much. As in how much will his next contract be worth.

Ohtani is among several players going into their final seasons before they are eligible for free agency. There is still time for signatures and press conferences before opening day, but history shows a new contract becomes less likely once the real games begin.

There is no real precedent for placing a value on Ohtani’s remarkable skills, especially after baseball’s epic offseason spending spree. And that doesn’t factor in the potential business opportunities that go along with the majors’ only truly global star.

Ohtani hit .273 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs last season in his fifth year with the Los Angeles Angels. The 2021 AL MVP also went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts on the mound.

He prepared for this season by leading Japan to the World Baseball Classic championship, striking out fellow Angels star Mike Trout for the final out in a 3-2 victory over the United States in the final.

Ohtani, who turns 29 in July, could set multiple records with his next contract, likely in the neighborhood of a $45 million average annual value and quite possibly reaching $500 million in total.

If the Angels drop out of contention in the rough-and-tumble AL West, Ohtani likely becomes the top name on the trade market this summer. If the Angels are in the mix for the playoffs, the pressure builds on the team to get something done before possibly losing Ohtani in free agency for nothing more than a compensatory draft pick.

So yeah, definitely high stakes with Ohtani and the Angels.

Here is a closer look at five more players eligible for free agency after this season:


Nola, who turns 30 in June, went 11-13 with a 3.25 ERA in 32 starts for Philadelphia last year. He also had a career-best 235 strikeouts in 205 innings for the NL champions.

Nola was selected by the Phillies with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft. There were extension talks during spring training, but it didn’t work out.

“We are very open-minded to trying to sign him at the end of the season,” President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We’re hopeful that he’ll remain a Phillie for a long time.”


Chapman hit 36 homers and drove in 91 runs for Oakland in 2019. He hasn’t been able to duplicate that production, but the three-time Gold Glover finished with 27 homers and 76 RBIs in 155 games last year in his first season with Toronto.

Chapman turns 30 on April 28. Long one of the game’s top fielding third basemen, he is represented by Scott Boras, who generally takes his clients to free agency.


Hernández was acquired in a November trade with Toronto. He hit .267 with 25 homers and 77 RBIs in his final year with the Blue Jays. He was terrific in 2021, batting .296 with 32 homers, 116 RBIs and a .870 OPS.

The change of scenery could help the 30-year-old Hernández set himself up for a big payday. He is a .357 hitter with three homers and seven RBIs in 16 games at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.


The switch-hitting Happ is coming off perhaps his best big league season, setting career highs with a .271 batting average, 72 RBIs and 42 doubles in 158 games. He also won his first Gold Glove and made the NL All-Star team for the first time.

Chicago had struggled to re-sign its own players in recent years, but it agreed to a $35 million, three-year contract with infielder Nico Hoerner on Monday. The 28-year-old Happ, a first-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft, is on the executive subcommittee for the players’ union.


Urías, who turns 27 in August, likely will have plenty of suitors if he reaches free agency. He went 17-7 with an NL-low 2.16 ERA in 31 starts for the NL West champions in 2022, finishing third in NL Cy Young Award balloting. That’s after he went 20-3 with a 2.96 ERA in the previous season.

Urías also is a Boras client, but the Dodgers have one of the majors’ biggest payrolls. Los Angeles also could make a run at Ohtani, which could factor into its discussions with Urías’ camp.