Mets’ Steve Cohen cautions spending doesn’t mean title this year

Steve Cohen Mets
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets owner Steve Cohen cautions the team’s record spending won’t necessarily lead to a World Series title this year.

“You know how hard it is to get to get into the World Series – as we saw last year, right?” Cohen said Monday at New York’s spring training camp. “So the only thing you can do is put yourself in position where good things can happen. Got to make the playoffs. The team’s got to be healthy. It’s got to be rested. It’s got to be raring to go. And then you let the chips fall where they may. And if you keep putting yourself there, one day we’ll get there. Obviously, I’d love it sooner than later. But, you know, I can’t control that.”

New York won its only World Series titles in 1969 and 1986. The Mets won 101 games last year, second-most in franchise history but were unable to hold off Atlanta in the NL East after sitting atop the division for all but six days. The Mets were eliminated by San Diego in a three-game Wild Card Series.

New York raised its payroll to a projected $370 million and is set to shatter the record, set by the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers at $291 million.

The Mets had a $146 million payroll in 2019, the last fully played season under the Wilpon and Katz familiies. New York boosted payroll to $199 million in 2021, the first season after Cohen bought the team, and $275 million last year, when the Mets led the major leagues in spending for the first time since 1989.

Cohen cited inflation as a factor in the offseason spending spree.

“All of the sudden we were looking at prices up 20, 30%,” Cohen said. “That was a shocker to me, and certainly changed our plans, and I had to think differently. You know, $300 million, which is still a lot of money, didn’t get us like it used to – what we could.”

Cohen’s Mets signed AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to a $86.7 millon, two-year contract, added pitchers Kodai Senga ($75 million for five years), Jose Quintana ($26 million for two years) and David Robertson ($10 million for one years), along with catcher Omar Narvaez ($15 million for two years). New York also re-signed closer Edwin Diaz ($102 million for five years), outfielder Brandon Nimmo ($162 million for eight years), infielder Jeff McNeil ($50 million for four years) and reliever Adam Ottavino ($14.5 million for two years).

New York projects to have a luxury tax payroll of about $390 million, which would result in a tax of about $116 million. While negotiators for teams and players adopted a fourth tax threshold last year know as the “Cohen tax,” the Mets owner has used his hedge-fund riches to keep spending. That has increased disparity in a sport that saw four teams finish last year with payrolls under $100 million.

“They’ve been dealing with that problem for a long time,” Cohen said. “It’s really hard for me to say how to solve that because I think it’s a multi-variable problem. I think ultimately, I think the key for baseball is you need to grow revenues. And it can’t be through constantly raising ticket prices. It’s got to be getting more attendance, getting more interest in the game.”

Cohen said some other owners told him at recent meetings they realized he was following the established rules. He doesn’t believe the owner’s new economic study group will formulate proposals specifically aimed at him.

“Absolutely not,” Cohen said. “There’s plenty of issues there. The media issues, as we know about, there are revenue issues, right? Attendance issues. So, you know, I say it again, I think it’s great that the owners are getting together discuss all these issues.”

With team president Sandy Alderson shifting to a special assistant role, Cohen intends a more of a day-to-day role in management.

Cohen expects improvement from the Mets farm system will cause less dependance on free agents, calling current behavior a “bridge” to the future.

“People have to be patient,” Cohen said. “It’s taking time. I see progress, and I’m encouraged what we’re doing down in the lower part of the system. And from what I hear, we’re developing pitchers, which I think is really important.”

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

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WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

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