Before Andrew McCutchen was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the San Fransisco Giants, the Mets were just a handshake away from acquiring the former MVP. After the deal fell through, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he didn’t like that Brandon Nimmo was included in the deal. While that might have helped dissuade Alderson from making the trade, was that the real reason? Jon Morosi of MLB Network has a theory suggesting different reasons.
“I do not believe Nimmo was the impediment in failing to get McCutchen,” Morosi theorized on MLB network Radio. “I think there was a financial piece of that and I think that would be a similar conversation with Harrison. Harrison is a great fit for the Mets, but as we speak today I think there’s a better chance that Harrison will be a Yankee than a Met.”
Andrew McCutchen is owed $14,750,000 this season. Considering the Mets financial handcuffs, as well as the fact they’d already signed Anthony Swarzak, it is not farfetched to think this deal fell through because the Pirates wouldn’t eat enough money. Further, the next day the Mets would sign Jay Bruce who they will pay $10 million this season.
Upon trading Cutch to the Giants, the Pirates agreed to pay $2.5 million of the $14.75 million owed to him. That left the Giants with a $12.25 million price tag, not including the $500,000 of international bonus pool space the Giants sent to the Pirates in the deal. Could the Mets not afford that $12.25 million the Pirates asked the Giants to pay? Maybe the Mets got the Pirates to pay even more of his contract, but even then, could the Mets not afford it?
This would not be the first time this offseason when a deal fell through due to money. It was reported by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that the Mets and Indians had a deal in place for second baseman Jason Kipnis, but “Mets higher-ups didn’t see Kipnis as good value” so the deal was nixed. Those ‘higher-ups’ were likely Mets ownership.
The 30-year-old second baseman is owed $13.5 million in 2018 and $14.5 million in 2019. His contract includes a $16.5 million club option for 2020 with a $2.5 million buyout. It was obviously the case that the Indians were not including enough money in the deal to make it worth it for Mets ownership to take on the brunt of Kipnis’ contract. Did the same thing happen with McCutchen? Possibly.
Will the same thing happen with Josh Harrison? If you ask Jon Morosi, he’ll say yes.
“We would all like to see the Mets get to the point where they spend at a level closer to their neighbors in New York,” Morosi said. “Today is not that day.”
Harrison, 30, is owed $10 million in 2018 with club options for 2019 and 2020 worth $10.5 million and $11 million respectively. The 2019 and 2020 options have $1 million and $500,000 buyouts respectively.
While other teams have plenty of players making over $10 million in a season, the Mets are not other teams. With only three players making more than $10 million (Yoenis Cespedes, David Wright, and Adrian Gonzalez who the Mets are paying only the league minimum), Harrison’s contract will immediately shoot up the ranks as one of the Mets’ most expensive.
The question is this: Will ownership approve of the deal? Well, that depends on how much money the Pirates include in the deal which, of course, depends on how much talent Alderson offers in return.
Alderson has made it clear that he prefers not to trade Nimmo, and as I discussed this morning it would be a mistake to trade any of the Mets’ five MLB outfielders. The Mets farm system is not as strong as it used to be, and with the Pirates in rebuild mode, they will be looking for young controllable talent in return if they’re going to eat some of Harrison’s contract, or even trade him in the first place.
As Morosi says and we all know, Harrison is a great fit for the Mets at second base. The only thing that seems to be standing in the way between the Mets making any of these trades, Harrison included, seems to be money.