No one but is aware of what sort of baseball workforce proprietor Steven Cohen shall be as soon as video games have been performed and performances could be measured together with wins and losses.
In Cohen’s first low season at the helm, Mets followers have gotten a style that their new proprietor, when correctly motivated, can spend like George Steinbrenner. But will a bombastic and impatient aspect out of the blue seem at the first signal of a shedding streak? Or will he reveal a hands-off endurance, the manner Nelson Doubleday as soon as did as the Mets’ proprietor?
It will take time to be taught Cohen’s in-season tendencies, a course of that’s set to start Monday night time in Philadelphia, the place the Mets are scheduled to play their first common season recreation since Cohen bought the workforce in November — a debut that had been delayed since Thursday due to constructive coronavirus checks amongst Washington Nationals gamers.
Just hours earlier than the first pitch on Monday, Cohen made clear that his expectations had been excessive: As in, championships, plural.
During a video convention name with reporters, Cohen mentioned his expectations and his alternative to increase the star shortstop Francisco Lindor with a 10-year, $341 million contract. The deal makes Lindor the cornerstone of the workforce, now and right into a future that Cohen believes will embody a number of golden trophies for a franchise that hasn’t gained one since 1986.
“I think he is going to lead us to division titles, pennants and World Series championships,” Cohen mentioned in a ready assertion earlier than taking questions from reporters. “He’s all in. I told you I’m all in, and this should leave no doubt.”
Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund supervisor, wouldn’t say later whether or not all of that will occur in 2021, however he added, “I do believe we are going to make the playoffs, and once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen, right?”
But how will Cohen react if these expectations are usually not met? Would Luis Rojas, the supervisor whose contract possibility for subsequent yr has not but been picked up, or Sandy Alderson, the president of baseball operations, finally pay the worth if the workforce didn’t fulfill the new proprietor’s calls for?
So far, whether or not via his jocular Twitter account or in interviews, Cohen evokes the picture of the agreeable, avuncular form of proprietor greater than a stern process grasp. But he has solely been accountable for the workforce for 5 months, with out seeing a single actual at-bat.
In that point, nevertheless, Cohen has achieved his half as proprietor. He signed Lindor to the largest contract in franchise historical past — and the largest ever given to a shortstop. He dedicated greater than $90 million to a number of different gamers, together with catcher James McCann and pitchers Taijuan Walker, Trevor May and Aaron Loup. (He additionally made a considerable supply to the low season’s high free agent pitcher, Trevor Bauer, however Bauer chose instead to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers).
It is now as much as the rebuilt Mets to understand Cohen’s expectations.
“I can’t hit the ball, I’m not pitching,” Cohen mentioned of his skill to impression the workforce. “It’s ultimately up to the players. You can lay down all sorts of plans, you can acquire players, you can promote players, but ultimately it’s up to them to play.”
He added: “We are there to support them and to adapt if we need to adapt. But I think our organization has prepared the team to perform well, and obviously we need to be flexible as the season progresses, right? The goal is to win. That’s the mantra, and I know the players want to win, too.”
Cohen lauded Alderson for what he referred to as a “phenomenal trade” that purchased Lindor to the Mets in January from Cleveland. Alderson, who was additionally on the name, returned the favor, remarking that the parameters below which he works have modified noticeably from these established by Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and Jeff Wilpon, the triumvirate that bought the workforce to Cohen late final yr.
“It’s different, certainly,” Alderson, who had been the Mets’ common supervisor from 2010 to 2018, mentioned in an unmistakable reference to the Wilpon/Katz dynasty’s unwillingness to spend as lavishly as Cohen has. “I’m much appreciative of the support that Steve has shown in a variety of different ways, including financially.”
Cohen mentioned that he’s discovering his “sea legs,” as an proprietor, which prompted Alderson to harken again to feedback that Cohen had made when he assumed management of the workforce in November.
At the time, Cohen warned that he wouldn’t spend irresponsibly like a “drunken sailor.” But in what’s definitely extra music to the ears of Mets followers, Cohen additionally declared, “We are going to act like a major market club.”
That has not all the time been the case in Flushing.
During the negotiations with Lindor, Cohen mentioned, he had a number of social interactions with the participant, forming a bond. Part of that was a results of Cohen’s in-laws (the dad and mom of his spouse, Alex Cohen) who’re from Caguas, Puerto Rico, the identical city Lindor is from. Cohen referred to as Lindor “special” a number of occasions on the name and mentioned he had been optimistic a deal could be struck due to the huge amount of cash he initially placed on the bargaining desk.
Cohen finally got here up from his first supply, and Lindor got here down from his preliminary ask, with the pair assembly close to the center. But in what might be seen as a warning to future free brokers, Cohen mentioned that pursuing one thing fascinating can’t be achieved at any value.
“Because of my experiences in the art market and the business world, I’ve learned to be very disciplined and I hope that was reflected in how I handled the negotiations,” he mentioned of the discussions with Lindor. “No guarantee it was going to happen. I wanted it to happen, but not at the expense of making a bad deal for myself.”
Alderson and Cohen additionally answered questions on different matters, together with whether or not there had been any progress on discussions for contract extensions with outfielder Michael Conforto and pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. Cohen mentioned there had been common conversations with all related gamers however reported no notable progress or expectations with any of them but.
Cohen mentioned he supported the resolution made by Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, to maneuver the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of the new Georgia voting laws, which many say are geared toward limiting entry to Black voters.
“I know the commissioner made a well-considered decision and I respect that,” Cohen mentioned.
Cohen and Alderson had been additionally requested about coronavirus vaccinations for gamers. Some, together with on the Mets, have expressed reservations about taking the photographs, which Alderson acknowledged. He inspired the gamers to get vaccinated, as he has, he mentioned, and added that medical employees shall be readily available in Philadelphia to coach the gamers about the course of.
Cohen added that there was hope that attendance at Citi Field, which for now’s restricted to 20 % due to the pandemic, will go up throughout the course of the season.
“I’m optimistic, given the pace of vaccinations, that the state and city will loosen up capacity restrictions as we go along.”