Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said Sunday that the team not being players for most of the top free agents in recent years was a "total recommendation" of the baseball operations department, adding that pursuing top free agents going forward would depend on the views of their next GM.
The Mets are replacing Sandy Alderson, who helped usher in the Moneyball Era when he was GM of the Oakland Athletics. Alderson spoke often during his Mets tenure about his aversion to handing out contracts that were enormous in terms of both years and dollars, explaining that those deals have a low probability of working out.
When free agency begins, two of the most prized free agents in history will hit the open market -- 26 year-old infielder Manny Machado and 25-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper.
It is true that -- as Alderson noted many times -- a large percentage of megadeals don't work out. Look at Prince Fielder, Joe Mauer, Jason Heyward, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, Albert Pujols, Shin-Soo Choo and others as examples.
But what sets Machado and Harper apart from most players who receive megadeals is that they're hitting free agency right in the middle of their prime.
While Alderson was at the helm, the Mets did commit to a contract with an extremely large average annual value to Yoenis Cespedes -- twice. The Mets re-signed Cespedes to a three-year deal worth $75 million after the 2015 season, and a four-year deal worth $110 million during the 2016 offseason (after Cespedes opted out of his original deal).
During most of Alderson's tenure, though, the Mets signed middle-tier free agents, including Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, Michael Cuddyer, Jay Bruce, and Jason Vargas.
As SNY's Andy Martino has reported, the Mets are casting a wide net for their next GM, with both traditional and non-traditional candidates being considered. Current front office members John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi, and Omar Minaya are not candidates for the full-time gig, according to Wilpon.