The way New York Mets owner Steve Cohen sees it, there are worse things to have your name on than one of Major League Baseball’s tax tiers.
“It’s better than a bridge being named after you,” he said on Sunday at team facilities down in Port St. Lucie, FL.
The Mets have the highest payroll in baseball — the introduction of Cohen suddenly making the Queens club the big spenders on the market.
Before the lockout, they zoomed past MLB’s former luxury tax threshold (CBT) of $210 million after bringing on the likes of Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, and Max Scherzer on a record-setting deal.
As the league negotiated its new collective bargaining agreement and the CBT became such a sticking point in talks, Cohen’s big-spending presence continued to loom. MLB introduced a fourth level of luxury tax penalties that would provide harsher punishments for the Amazin’s should they go over the new CBT of $230 million by $60 million or more.
And it’s being called the Steve Cohen Tax.
It’s not stopping him, though, as he admitted that his team “probably will” go over the $290 million payroll mark.
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Cohen continued. “It’s hard to say by how much… It’s still a lot of money to spend on a payroll but I don’t feel like it’s so confining that I can’t live with it. “
Following their November shopping spree and the acquisition of starting pitcher Chris Bassitt from the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, the Mets’ 2022 payroll is currently estimated at $272 million, per Fangraphs.
For more on Steve Cohen and the Mets: Chris Bassitt trade creates vaunted top 3 in Mets’ rotation
One doesn’t have to be a mathematician to realize at least one or two more sizable moves could be made for a team that is looking to potentially add a notable left-handed bat and some bullpen help.
“No one has unlimited money,” Cohen said. “We’re going to be careful at this point. After a few moves, we’re going to feel like we are where we are and we’ll have a team that we’ll be comfortable with.”
The moves have already made the Mets one of the teams to watch for in the race for the National League pennant. The deal for Bassitt after adding Scherzer gives New York a formidable top three in their rotation alongside Jacob deGrom. Marte is a true center fielder the franchise has for the first time in quite a few seasons while Escobar brings another infield power bat alongside the likes of Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor.
“It all looks good on paper,” Cohen said. “Hard to know what’s going to happen in real life. I’m looking forward to a great season. I think we’re going to be really competitive and we’ll see what happens.”