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Grading New York Mets record-setting MLB free agency moves as payroll reaches $384M

The New York Mets stunned the baseball world on Wednesday when they swooped in and signed Carlos Correa away from the San Francisco Giants. However, the move was just the latest headline-making moment in a record-breaking offseason for the most expensive team in American professional sports.

The Mets entered this offseason needing to maintain the standard their 2022 roster set by winning 101 games, and then somehow improving upon it. And hate it or love it, New York has done exactly that with the power of billionaire owner Steve Cohen’s unlimited bank account.

With their surprise signing of Carlos Correa on Wednesday — after his deal with the Giants fell apart yesterday — the team’s projected payroll for 2023 will be $384 million. That is before they are reportedly taxed an extra $111 million for blowing by all the current payroll thresholds in the current collective bargaining agreement.

Related: Carlos Correa shockingly signs $315M deal with New York Mets, spurning Giants

The big question now is, was Cohen’s absurd spending in MLB free agency this winter worth it? Let’s take look at the various big moves the New York Mets made in the open market and hand out some grades for each.

Justin Verlander

new york mets
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After losing team legend Jacob deGrom to the Texas Rangers in MLB free agency, they needed to respond and fill the void left by their former ace. They did just that by inking American League Cy Young Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.6 million deal. This now means they will have two aging aces making $43 million annually, after giving Max Scherzer similar money last year.

Clearly, the team has a two-year window to win at least one championship. While the money is ridiculous, you can’t go wrong by adding the 2022 CY Young winner who was a key part of the squad that just won the World Series.

Grade: A-

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa was one of the best players in MLB free agency this winter. But the reason his original deal with the Giants fell through was that the team hesitated on finalizing the deal after seeing the results from his physical. San Francisco missed on signing Aaron Judge and needed to add a star this offseason, yet that desire wasn’t enough for them to feel comfortable with the 13-year, $350 million deal they agreed to.

While Correa is one of the youngest of the All-Stars on the market, he does have a history of injuries, and the 12 years and $315 million the Mets game him has a great deal of risk. For a franchise that has had far more bad contracts than good ones, there is reason to be worried. Especially since it could be argued they didn’t necessarily need an expensive player like Correa to be better in 2023.

Grade: C+

Kodai Senga

new york mets
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets filled a need in the rotation by adding Kodai Senga, one of the two big Japanese players in the MLB free-agent market. While there is certainly risk involved with any international player making the jump to MLB, $14 million annually is a fair rate for a pitcher projected to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher in the league.

The six-year, $75 million deal gives the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks star opt-outs after the fourth and fifth seasons.

Grade: B+

Jose Quintana

The New York Mets filled their third opening in the starting staff with 11-year veteran Jose Quintana. With the strategy seeming to be a two-year window to win it all, his two-season deal for $26 million is a very good one considering the going rate for solid starters in the league.

Quintana is coming off a strong 2022 campaign where he had a 2.93 ERA and 1.213 WHIP while splitting time between the Pirates and Cardinals.

Grade: A

Edwin Diaz

new york mets
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In earning his second trip to the All-Star game in 2022, Edwin Diaz had a historic season for the New York Mets. And it couldn’t have come at a better time as it helped to land him an equally historic deal for a closer. While it was a move the team had to make to maintain their World Series chances, relievers — even closers — can be a fickle lot with peaks and valleys from year to year.

At 28, Diaz is likely to have another tremendous season, but his tenure in New York alone is reason to be pessimistic he will play up to the close to $20 million annually he’ll be earning until 2028.

Grade: B-

Brandon Nimmo

Brandon Nimmo was an important part of the New York Mets lineup and defense in 2022. Similar to Diaz, the team needed him back. However, the need to maintain the level last-year set led the organization to pay a player who has never been an All-Star over $20 million a year for seven straight seasons, starting in 2024.

Chances are Nimmo maxed out on his potential in 2022 and he is being compensated like a player they expect to get even better. That is unlikely.

Grade: C-

David Robertson

Reliever David Robertson was a player the New York Mets targeted at the MLB trade deadline last year. However, the Phillies were able to secure his services and he helped them reach the World Series last season.

Any series title contender needs a strong bullpen. While Robertson is long in the tooth at 37, he is still a high-level talent and is battle-tested in big spots in the playoffs, and in New York after spending nine winning years of his career with the Yankees.

Grade: B

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