New York Mets Owner Steve Cohen Smashes the $300M Barrier
A recent in-depth report by Evan Drellich of The Athletic (subscription required) on the Mets offseason free agent shopping spree noted ramifications for ther rest of MLB. With the 12 year, $315M contract for Carlos Correa, owner Steve Cohen has hiked his payroll near $380M before luxury-tax penalties,. As Drellich notes, “he’s taken his payroll to a total level the sport hasn’t seen ever. And relative to his peers’ spending, Cohen is an outlier the game hasn’t seen since George Steinbrenner.”
Under the new CBA - and as a second time offender - the Mets will be taxed at 90% for every dollar above the $293M upper luxury tax penalty tier. Cohen seems to have no qualms about paying a 90% tax on overages even above $300M.
The article cites another unnamed MLB official saying, “there’s no collusion. But … there was a reason nobody for years ever went past $300M. You still have partners, and there’s a system.” While “a system” certainly sounds a bit like “collusion”, fans of smaller market teams should be feeling some angst about payroll escalation for the wealthiest teams.
Given Rogers is one of the wealthiest ownership groups, could they be willing to engage in this payroll arms race and take on longer term contracts with higher AAVs for their young core? Such extensions could easily drive the 2024 payroll to the $250-290M range and trigger luxury tax penalties.
The Yankees ($292M estimated luxury tax payroll for 2023) have approached that upper tier already as well, but they compete directly against the Mets in the New York market. Per RosterResource, the Padres ($267M), Phillies ($251M) Braves ($240M), Dodgers ($233M) and Blue Jays ($233M) are also in luxury tax territory for 2023.
And judging from the arbitration eligible Jays in 2024, plus Chapman and García, plus potential long term extensions for younger stars and new free agent signings, the Blue Jays will be above the luxury tax threshold in 2024, although still likely well below the Mets and Yankees!