Once Again, Silly Spending New York Mets Give NL East to Financially Wise Atlanta Braves

By | December 22, 2022

The New York Mets just signed another overpriced player for a record payroll of around $384 million (so far) to trigger an estimated luxury tax of $111 million. In other words, the bosses of Major League Baseball’s wildest spending team still haven’t learned their lesson, which means they still won’t win the National League East next season.

Not that the Atlanta Braves are angry with them.

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That’s the unofficial motto these days of Braves officials, but not for themselves, but for others in their division. You know, like the Philadelphia Phillies (Did they really give $300 million to shortstop Trea Turner who’ll turn 40 when that 11-year deal expires?) and the Mets (Did they really shock common sense by signing a $315 million deal over 12 years with injury-prone infielder Carlos Correa within moments after he failed a physical with the San Francisco Giants to save the Giants from embarrassing themselves by giving Correa $350 million over 13 years?).

In contrast, the Braves prefer to stay with what they have, and that’s a lot, by the way, especially since they’ve given team-friendly contracts of length to center fielder Michael Harris, right fielder Ronald Acuna, second baseman Ozzie Albies, starting pitcher Spencer Strider and third baseman Austin Riley.

The bonding throughout the Braves’ roster is strong, and it only will increase through stability, while the Phillies and the Mets act as if chemistry in a clubhouse and on the field is secondary to spending like crazy every year to build a team with as many celebrated free agents as possible.

No question, the Braves will add pieces (far, far cheaper ones than the Phillies and the Mets) here and there along the way to a sixth consecutive NL East title. They spent last week trading for Gold Glove catcher Sean Murphy from the Oakland A’s, but consider this for perspective: According to spotrac.comthe Braves’ projected total payroll for 2023 is $193,766,742 compared to $228,557,127 for the Phillies, and as I mentioned earlier, the Mets are Looney Tunes meets the Twilight Zone in that category.

While the wise-spending Braves captured the 2021 World Series, the Phillies haven’t won it all since 2008 and the Mets since 1986.

Sounds like the Braves know what they’re doing.

As opposed to . . .

“We talked about putting the best team we could on the field and let winning drive the decisions we were gonna make,” New York Mets general manager Billy Eppler told reporters last week before he suggested the mindset of the Mets’ hierarchy these days is that of George Allen, the coach of Washington’s NFL team called “The Over The Hill Gang” during the early 1970s: The future is now. Eppler added, “With some of the conversations we had, the future does come up and it comes up a lot. But in the here and now, being able to put a club together we feel really good about what’s important. That was the prevailing conversation.”

Why else would the Mets give 39-year-old pitcher Justin Verlander a two-year contract worth $86.7 million? Yes, his 1.75 ERA last season with the Houston Astros was the best in baseball, and he went 18-4, but he had Tommy John surgery in September 2020, and his birthdays keep coming. Before the Correa deal, Verlander was the seventh free agent to sign with the Mets for a total of $476.7 million.

The Mets also weren’t idle with their checkbook heading into 2022. Among other things, they gave free agent shortstop Francisco Lindor a 10-year deal worth $341 million. It worked so well for the Mets that they held a 10 1/2-game lead over the Braves last season on June 1.

But the Mets still didn’t win the division. Which is why they decided to throw around even crazier amounts of money during this offseason.

Which is why Braves officials should be checking out spots around Truist Park for another NL East placard.

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