Mets Mailbag: On Luis Rojas' future, the luxury tax, and Noah Syndergaard's timeline

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Andy Martino
·4 min read
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New York Mets manager Luis Rojas spring training workouts
New York Mets manager Luis Rojas spring training workouts

Here's SNY MLB Insider Andy Martino's Mets mailbag...

@johnquinn83: Why didn’t the Mets go harder after Bradley? How is Dom Smith going to get enough at bats? Do they have enough left handed pitching?

On Bradley, the Mets never acted aggressively in part because they didn’t want to take away at-bats from Brandon Nimmo and Dom Smith. As a result, their defense up the middle remains a concern.

It’s hard to overstate how lukewarm the Mets were about Bradley. We reported Thursday that the team heard from agent Scott Boras that Bradley was looking for more than four years and $50 million. It turns out that even that overstated their interest and level of engagement.

The team had assumptions about what Bradley was asking, but never actually talked finances with Boras (the Mets did get far enough down the line with pitchers Jake Arrieta and James Paxton to talk specific dollars).

In fact, after a Zoom call with Bradley and Boras, the Mets did not engage again until Boras checked in with them. Bradley was left wondering if the team wanted him or not (they didn’t, particularly).

It worked out well enough for Bradley, who ended up with a one-year “pillow contract” and a chance to re-enter the market next winter in a non-COVID economy. As for Smith, he’s the everyday left fielder.

And left-handed pitching -- well, Aaron Loup has upside and could be a nice little signing, but the Mets will miss Justin Wilson. Jerry Blevins is also back for a depth option. Obviously Peterson will probably be the lefty in the rotation.

@Dylan_J_16: Will the Mets ever go over the luxury tax?

Yes. The plan in year one of Steve Cohen’s ownership was to stay under the tax. Sandy Alderson went to Cohen and made a case for exceeding it in order to sign Trevor Bauer. He received approval for that one splurge.

Cohen’s willingness to stretch indicates that he’ll be willing to go over the tax in future seasons. Keep in mind, too, that next year will bring a new CBA and probably new luxury tax rules.

@Rd71NY01: How is Thor coming along? And is he still on target for June?

I’m new to the Marvel Universe/Avengers but have started watching with my son. I didn’t like Thor as much as Iron Man, Captain Marvel and some others. As far as June, it looks like the timetable is ahead of that -- the Loki series is set to debut on Disney+ in May.

@ajzahn510: Is Rojas considered Sandy/Steve's pick or is he a lame duck in their mind?

He wasn't their pick, but he’s not a lame duck, either. Alderson has great admiration for Rojas as a person and felt that he had earned a chance to show he can handle the job in a full season. If he performs well, he’ll stay. But he’s definitely being evaluated by the new leadership.

@BombersBeat: Yankee account asking a Mets question here. The Mets bullpen seems to be really versatile and deep, do they plan on having set roles past a closer or do they plan on using matchup leverage like other teams?

Expect the Mets to continue to pursue a more advanced and contemporary way of managing their pitching staff -- less about defined innings for relievers, and more about leverage and matchups suggested by data.

@SebbyDubs: When is Lugo expected to return?

He’s six weeks behind because of the elbow surgery, but the good news is that the Mets truly believe that Lugo will indeed return in that time frame. A silver lining of the injury is that it probably led the team to more aggressively pursue Taijuan Walker.

@NYMets_fan: You argue that they shouldn't sign Lindor until he has played for the team. Are you against large free agent signings too? If not why do you feel this is different?

Large free agents signings -- with many obvious exceptions -- are not typically the most efficient or effective way to build a quality roster.

And I haven't actually argued that they shouldn’t sign Lindor. Just that they should be careful about it.

@jdmetfan: Will Rojas use a defensive replacement scheme in the late innings such as Nimmo to left, Pillar into CF, Dom to 1b and Pete out of the game. Also, Guillorme to 3rd base. Will it be done as the norm not sporadically?

A strategy along those lines will probably be the rule, not the exception. The roster is constructed for it.

@JimmyHighFives: How did the media not report on Callaway’s lewd behavior if it was one of MLB’s worst kept secrets? Have there been any accountability or changes made by the media to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

I heard one rumor second hand. For reasons I can't get into without gossiping, I determined it was the victim’s story to tell. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I can do differently in general on this issue, and a lot of that is to shut up, listen and be humble about what I don’t understand.