New York Mets owner Steve Cohen had it all the way — at least that’s the mindset he put forth when discussing the contract extension negotiations with Francisco Lindor.
The hedge-fund billionaire spoke just hours before his team’s delayed Opening Day on Monday; just minutes after the club officially announced that it had inked Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million contract extension.
News of Lindor’s long-term future being secured in Queens until 2032 had come to light late last Wednesday, just hours before the Mets’ originally scheduled Opening Day against the Washington Nationals, whose COVID concerns wiped out the first three games of the year.
Lindor imposed an April 1 deadline on when negotiations could be held, citing the need to focus entirely on baseball during the regular season.
“I thought I put a really good bid on the table so I would’ve been surprised if there wasn’t a deal done,” Cohen said. “Saying that, if somebody doesn’t want to do it, there’s nothing I could do about it. Thankfully, it came to pass.”
It was the crown jewel of an offseason that was plenty busy for Cohen and the Mets, though a number of fans voiced their displeasure toward Cohen when it came to pursuing the likes of other notable free agents like Trevor Bauer or George Springer.
“We made significant offers to various free agents as an example,” he said. “We tried to build up our organization… we made different attempts to demonstrate that we’re serious about this… It was great to get Francisco over the line. We like him a lot.
“I thought it was a very successful offseason. We built up our depth and we’re thrilled where we are.”
Now the Mets have one of the best shortstops in the game for the next 11 seasons while Cohen almost tripled the club’s record for the most expensive contract ever given to a player. It was almost expected from the $14 billionaire, though he has continuously played down the concept of spending money for the sake of spending.
“I wasn’t going to run around spending money like a drunken sailor,” Cohen reiterated while teasing an aggressive future on the market. “Francisco is a special guy and deserved a special contract. Each situation we’ll evaluate differently.”
“Steve said he’s starting to get his sea legs, but it’s tough when you’re a drunken sailor,” team president Sandy Alderson added. “So I think Steve has done a great job navigating these issues.”
The hard part for Cohen — at least temporarily — is over as the team he assembled finally takes the field after a much-anticipated wait.
“I can’t hit the ball, I’m not pitching,” Cohen said. “Ultimately, it’s up to the players. You can lay out the plans, you can acquire the players… but ultimately, it’s up to the players to play.
“We’re here to support them… Our organization has prepared our team to perform well and we need to flexible as the season progresses. The goal is to win, that’s the mantra. The players want to win, too.”
While the Mets are considered to be a potential contender to represent the National League in the World Series, Cohen is taking it slow as he takes a longer view of his young reign over the organization.
“I’m not going to predict a World Series out of the gate,” he said. “We’ll be real competitive, and I think we’ll make the playoffs. Once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen, so I’m pretty optimistic.
“I didn’t buy this team for one-year revenues but a 30-year view on what the Mets could be.”