“Likely will” exceed the payroll threshold

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The new collective bargaining agreement includes a fourth tier of the competitive balance sheet tax with penalties targeted at baseball’s biggest spenders.

Steve Cohen, who is the target of the Cohen Tax, is undeterred. On Sunday, the Mets owner indicated he’s still likely to break the $290 million salary threshold this season to try to build a championship team.

“We probably will [surpass it] … I wouldn’t be surprised and hard to say how much,” Cohen said at the team’s spring training complex.

The Mets increased their payroll to $275 million with Saturday’s trade revealed right-hander Chris Bassitt from Oakland. The team is still looking for bullpen help and could add another significant hitter to the lineup.

Mets owner Steve Cohen attends a news conference on February 10, 2021 announcing the opening of Mets Citi Field as a COVID-19 vaccine megacenter in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens.
Mets owner Steve Cohen
AP/Anthony Behar

Cohen, the game’s richest owner – his net worth is valued at $16 billion by Forbes – said he was not offended by MLB’s attempt to rein in its spending. The first threshold of the CBT for this season is $230 million.

“In my view, we need to look at this agreement in its entirety, and $290 million is a pretty big limit,” Cohen said. “I have to live within the confines of baseball and I’m fine with that.

“I know the name for it, it’s called the Cohen Tax. The way I describe it, it’s better than a bridge named after you or anything. There is still a lot of money to spend on payroll. I don’t feel like it’s so tight that I couldn’t live with it.”

Cohen indicated he was in no rush to begin negotiations with Jacob deGrom, whose contract includes an opt-out after this season. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is returning from a season cut short by a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.

“We’re going to play the season and then we’re going to find out,” Cohen said. “Jake will do what he does. We love Jake and we’ll find out eventually.”

Cohen said he was involved in the discussions leading to Bassitt’s acquisition for pitching prospects JT Ginn and Adam Oller. The owner was also heavily involved in the negotiations that led to this Max Scherzer receives a three-year contract worth $140 million in November.

“He’s a great pitcher and I definitely went along with it,” Cohen said. “I think it was really important for Max to hear my vision and let him get to know me and the goals of the team, so I got involved.” “Likely will” exceed the payroll threshold


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