We've got less than a month to go until spring training starts, and the two best free agents -- Bryce Harper and Manny Machado -- on the market this winter still don't know where they'll be playing in 2019. We do have some hints as to who some of the final teams might be in both players' sweepstakes, but you can now definitely count the New York Mets out for both.
On Thursday, Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff WIlpon and first-year General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen confirmed to the media that they will not be pursuing either of the two superstars.
"I don't know how many teams have two $30 million players," Wilpon said when asked why the team won't pursue Harper or Machado. Wilpon is referring to Robinson Cano, who was this past December and Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, whose 2018 season was cut short by surgery on both of his heels.
"When we looked at our roster, we recognized we had multiple needs that needed to be addressed," Van Wagenen added. "I think the execution of our plan shows what our intentions were of trying to fill those multiple positions. We never looked at this offseason as having one player in mind of looking at this offseason to make one significant investment."
When pressed about not significantly increasing the payroll, Wilpon replied, "I don't know how many teams have two $30 million players," referring to Cano and Cespedes. He continued by saying Van Wagenen "still has some room in there to do some things," fiscally.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 24, 2019
While Cano and Cespedes might be heavy on the Mets payroll, they're both not quite getting paid $30 million a year. Cespedes will get $29 million and Cano $24 million (Mariners will cover $5 million) next season. And right now, Cespedes' future isn't even set in stone for him to continue playing left field. He David Wright., potentially missing the entire year. In that case, the Mets would be able to recoup a large portion of his salary through insurance, as the team did with longtime third baseman
After the addition of infielder Jed Lowrie, Van Wagenen confirmed the Mets' plan to use prospect Jeff McNeil in the outfield more than previously anticipated. The 26-year-old has yet to make a single start in the outfield at the big-league level and has played just four games in the outfield while in the minor leagues.
The Mets “are going to make a commitment to developing [Jeff McNeil] as an outfielder," Brodie Van Wagenen said today. The team is sending quality control coach Luis Rojas to work with McNeil on his outfield defense before spring training begins.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) January 24, 2019