So as you’ve probably heard by now, the Mets lost the Jonathan Broxton Derby to the Kansas City Royals, who will pay him $4 million next season. Apparently the Mets were interested, but not willing to pay him that much.
Keep in mind that the Mets offered a better overall opportunity, with Joakim Soria blocking Broxton’s path to saves in Kansas City, and his competition for closing duties in New York consisting of… Manny Acosta?
Those opposing the deal pointed out, fairly, that spending $4 million on Broxton, far from a sure thing, is problematic for a team with other big problem areas and little money to address them.
That last part is key.
In the world Sandy Alderson thought he lived in last year, a land with a roughly $140 million annual payroll budget, he’d have $60 million or so to spend this winter if he wished. Within that context, spending $4 million for a one-year commitment to Broxton makes sense- no long-term tie, and a chance to add a dominant reliever for a cut-rate price. And he’s less than 8 percent of your free agent budget.
That’s what you’ll get at $4 million. Broxton is a question because of his health. If he were healthy, he’s not a $4 million pitcher, but several times that. At $4 million, you are either getting upside with questions, or proven mediocrity.
The essence of Moneyball is getting undervalued assets. And the intriguing part of bringing Alderson in last October was precisely how many undervalued assets he could add on a New York budget. Some pan out, some don’t. But the more chances you take on such players, the better your chances of finding the good ones. Get three players right on such risks, and you can contend. Well, a lot easier to go 3-for-12 than 3-for-3.
Instead, it looks like Alderson has more like $12-15 million, max, to spend this winter. Suddenly, a risk like Broxton is around 30 percent of your offseason budget. And if he doesn’t pan out, you have no fallback closer. So that money needs to be spent instead on certainty. And at that price? Certainty equals a mediocrity.
The point is, the money problems of ownership mean a lot more than just an inability to sign Jose Reyes. It impacts Sandy Alderson’s ability to fix this team in ways large and small.