Resurgent MLB Teams Missing Opportunity By Not Spending This Offseason?
While MLB teams are "bloated with money" and have spent $1.7B on player acquisitions so far this winter, some "blue-collar franchises with passionate fan bases are acting as if we're back in the 1950s," according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. The Pirates, Indians and Orioles are conducting offseason business as if "their owners seem satisfied with their mere cameos" in the postseason. The city of Pittsburgh's "passion was reborn" after the team clinched an NL Wild Card berth and snapped a 20-year streak of losing seasons. The Pirates drew 2.25 million fans and "a franchise-record 23 sellouts, to go along with a 22% TV ratings increase over their previous record." They "can't afford to underrate the importance of sustaining their newfound success." But "all they've done" this offseason is sign P Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5M deal and re-sign P Charlie Morton for three years at $21M. Meanwhile, the Indians "aren't doing a lot for the perception that their playoff run might be short-lived, doing little more than signing outfielder David Murphy to a two-year contract." The Orioles "have a young, exciting team." But while they play in the AL East alongside the Yankees and Red Sox, they are "spending money as though they're in the International League" (USA TODAY, 12/12).
STEP RIGHT UP...: On Long Island, Marc Carig writes the Mets signing P Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20M deal may be the team's "boldest move yet to bring an end to their streak of five straight losing seasons." Signing a pitcher to a multiyear deal "represented a sudden departure" as Mets GM Sandy Alderson had "spent much of the week playing down interest in the better free-agent pitchers available, seemingly content to wait out the market for cheaper options later in the winter." The addition of Colon "has upped the Mets' free-agent expenditures this winter" to $87.25M, "further signaling a break from the austerity policy that has limited spending." Colon joins CF Curtis Granderson and RF Chris Young "as part of a splurge that dwarfs" the team's $5M in total spending last winter. A source said that they "may not be finished" (NEWSDAY, 12/12). In Newark, Jorge Castillo wrote the Mets' "holiday shopping spree is in stark contrast to Alderson's first three offseasons at the helm," when the team invested a total of $27.5M in free-agent contracts. The Mets' payroll in '14 is currently projected at $83M, "including arbitration estimates." Alderson has said that the team will "feature a higher payroll" than last season's total of approximately $85M (NJ.com, 12/11). In N.Y., Bill Madden writes fans can no longer say that the Mets are "not trying," or that "they're cheapskates” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12). In New Jersey, Bob Klapisch writes the moves are "a welcome change from the downward spiral of the last few seasons" (Bergen RECORD, 12/12). On Long Island, David Lennon writes under the header, "With The Colon Move, Mets Show They're Not Mailing It In For 2014" (NEWSDAY, 12/12).