An Awful Announcing rendering of Michael Kay and the New York Mets logo. An Awful Announcing rendering of Michael Kay and the New York Mets logo.

Not everyone is in love with the New York Mets’ offseason.

While Major League Baseball teams prepare for spring training, analysts are busy predicting their performance for the upcoming season. The Michael Kay Show recently looked at ESPN predictions that ranked the 30 MLB teams, and the outlook for the Mets is not particularly optimistic. Projections suggest the Mets will win around 80.5 games and have only a 33% chance of making the playoffs. These predictions seem reasonable, considering the challenges the team faces. New York needs some lucky breaks to go their way, and they’ve openly stated that they are in a rebuilding phase until more money becomes available in 2025.

After missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Mets prioritized experienced players like Harrison Bader, Luis Severino, and others on short-term deals instead of pursuing some of the free agents in the market’s upper echelon. This approach has drawn criticism, particularly regarding the designated hitter position. While Mark Vientos is getting a chance to prove himself, he hasn’t been an overly well-thought-of prospect and struggled in limited MLB at-bats last year. Some argue this is a missed opportunity to address a significant need with a more established hitter.

That includes Michael Kay, who recently took aim at the team’s offseason approach, particularly at what he perceived as an unwillingness to spend money.

“Now, I always have to really dance very gingerly around this because I will be labeled ‘Yankee Boy,’ for my take, but I don’t think the Mets have anything to be proud about, the way they handled this offseason,” said Kay. “You took the one thing with Steve Cohen that puts you above and beyond everybody else — your one great advantage — and you didn’t exercise it. You can’t tell me that if you went out and got Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery and signed J.D. Martinez as your designated hitter, you wouldn’t be projected for 90 wins — 10 more wins. There’s no way.”

Kay partially hits the mark regarding Martinez, with whom the Mets have reportedly had a dialogue.

On the other hand, while Kay suggests the Mets should have pursued long-term deals with certain unsigned pitchers, there are counterpoints to consider. For Snell, signing him would have incurred significant draft pick and bonus money penalties due to his qualifying offer rejection. This cost and potential concerns about aging and declining performance throughout a long-term contract make his acquisition less attractive.

As for Montgomery, he wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer due to his mid-season trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Texas Rangers. But, acquiring a 31-year-old pitcher like Montgomery carries similar concerns to the previous additions of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, both older pitchers signed by the Mets. While owner Steve Cohen’s significant financial investment allowed those trades, it also meant absorbing sizeable contracts. It ultimately led to acquiring highly-rated young prospects like Drew Gilbert, Luisangel Acuña, and Ryan Clifford, who Baseball Prospectus currently ranks as the organization’s Nos. 2, 3 and 4 prospects, respectively.

While Kay’s point about establishing starting pitching is valid, the Mets’ approach may have been driven by cost and concerns about long-term risk, especially considering the young talent acquired in previous trades. His point also doesn’t consider that the New York Post’s Jon Heyman recently reported that the financial loss of Cohen, the Mets owner, is expected to be $200 million or more.

“You look at the starting rotation they have going into the season and what they have done offensively — which is nothing — they’re derelict in their duty,” continued Kay. “This is a man who bought the team and said he was going to win a championship within five years. This is Year 4; they ain’t winning a championship this year, and everybody keeps (going), ‘Well, there’s a plan.’ Well, what’s the plan?”

Don La Greca played down his co-host, Kay’s criticism of Mets owner Steve Cohen, arguing that Cohen is committed to building a sustainable team for the future. He highlighted Cohen’s focus on rebuilding the minor league system and pointed out the team’s past efforts to win now with big signings like Verlander and Scherzer.

La Greca then pointed out the success of those moves, suggesting they haven’t aged well, and emphasized the financial constraints the Mets face due to those contracts. In contrast, Kay maintained that the Mets’ high payroll didn’t justify their lack of action and argued that they should do more to improve in 2024.

“My point is, Don, with his money, you could still do both,” Kay said regarding Steve Cohen’s wallet. “So, they’ve just abandoned the money aspect of it.”

While Kay raises valid concerns about the Mets’ immediate outlook, their rebuilding strategy, guided by financial realities, could yield a more competitive team in the future.

[The Michael Kay Show]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.