The New York Mets are in a downward spiral, and team owner Steve Cohen knows it.
It’s why the team traded pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer over a one-week span and acquired a bounty of young prospects in return despite exuberant dreams of World Series glory before the season began.
So in an effort to take responsibility for the down season and perhaps quell a bit of unrest among Mets fans, Cohen wrote a letter to the season ticket holders which promised a better future for the team … next year. In the letter, reportedly obtained by the New York Post, Cohen said the Mets would be “competitive” and “formidable” in 2024.
“We added several key pieces to our team, but things have not turned out how we planned,” Cohen wrote in the letter, per the Post. “You are rightfully disappointed and so are we.
“This is not where we wanted to be in 2023. Our goal is to be a consistent contender. The only way to do this in a sustainable way is to build a pipeline of high-caliber talent in our farm system that will fuel our major league team for years to come.”
Cohen certainly hopes the prospects the Mets acquired at the trade deadline will fuel that pipeline.
New York received Houston Astros outfield prospects Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford for Verlander. Gilbert is the No. 67 ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, while Clifford homered in his first at-bat for the High-A Brooklyn Cyclones on Thursday night.
New York also acquired catching prospect Jeremy Rodriguez from the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching prospect Justin Jarvis from the Milwaukee Brewers as well as infield prospect Marco Vargas and catching prospect Ronald Hernandez from the Miami Marlins in other trades.
This mentality fits in line with what Scherzer hypothesized after the Mets sent him to the Texas Rangers, but with an even longer runway. Scherzer reportedly said that Mets general manager Billy Eppler told him the team didn’t intend to compete until at least 2025.
“I talked to Billy,” Scherzer said in a conversation with the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Tuesday. “I was like, ‘OK, are we reloading for 2024?’ He goes, ‘No, we’re not. Basically our vision now is for 2025-2026, ‘25 at the earliest. More like ‘26. We’re going to be making trades around that.’”
That conversation reportedly played a role in Scherzer’s decision to rethink his career with the team before the trade that eventually went down.
Cohen, who bought the Mets in 2020 for a reported $2.4 billion, appeared to be playing the probability game when it came to the Mets’ 2023 postseason aspirations. He reiterated his commitment to “sustainability” on Wednesday following both blockbuster trades and added that the Mets had “pretty crummy odds” to make the postseason this year anyway.
Entering Saturday, the Mets have a 2.5% chance to make the playoffs, per fangraphs. At 50-59, they’re fourth in the NL East and 7.5 games out of the final wild-card.
“I’ve said before: Hope is not a strategy,” Cohen said. “Now saying that, we didn’t have any idea what was possible at the deadline. We weren’t going to just do deals for the sake of doing deals. … It’s a moment in time where other clubs are thinking very short-term and I was thinking more intermediate long-term. And I was able to take advantage of that.”
Now, though, the Mets will toil near the bottom of the National League with plans for a brighter future down the road.