By Sam Bush and the Associated Press
Mets owner Steven Cohen is threatening his underperforming team with the prospect of a trade deadline selloff unless New York gets back into contention for a playoff berth.
“All is not lost yet, but it’s getting late,” he said during a news conference today.
“I’m preparing my management team for all possibilities. If they don’t get better, we have decisions to make at the trade deadline. That’s not my preferred end result. We’re preparing all contingencies.”
Cohen said manager Buck Showalter and general manager Billy Eppler will keep their jobs no matter that through the end of the season, but the team is still pursuing a president of baseball operations.
For this year, older players could be at risk of getting dealt. Cohen said he would be willing to cover their salaries in trades if it brought back better prospects.
“One year older with a veteran team, probably not the place to be,” he said.
New York currently projects to a $360 million payroll and is on track for a record luxury tax of about $99 million. The Mets are shattering the previous payroll high for $291 million set by the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers, who set a tax record that year at $43.6 million.
Yet, New York is 36-43 after losing seven of its previous 10 games and 16 of 22. The Mets were fourth in the NL East, 16½ games back of first-place Atlanta and 8½ games out of the last wild-card berth, their 4.58 ERA is 25th among the 30 teams.
FanGraphs estimated the Mets’ chances of winning the division at 0.1%, reaching the playoffs at 13.3% and winning the World Series at 1.1%.
“It’s been incredibly frustrating. I watch every game. I see what’s going on,” he said. “Hopefully, we can right the ship. Listen, we have quality players. For some reason, we’re not jelling. … It’s kind of weird. It’s really strange to me.”
Heading into its third season under Cohen, the Mets added pitchers Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, José Quintana and David Robertson along with catcher Omar Narváez and outfielder Tommy Pham. They also re-signed outfielder Brandon Nimmo for $162 million over eight years and closer Edwin Díaz for $102 million over five years. Díaz injured a knee during the World Baseball Classic and is expected to miss the entire season.
“They’re just going to have to get their act together,” he said. “It’s going to require real commitment.”
Asked whether a fourth-place finish would result in major changes, he quipped: “It’s not fifth place.”