It seemed like from the start of free agency the NY Mets and George Springer were destined for one another. Social media told us Springer to the Mets was all but a lock to happen. Buster Olney even said he would bet his family farm on Springer to the Mets. We all just assumed it would happen eventually, but then something crazy happened. The Toronto Blue Jays signed him for 6 years 150 million. Most Mets fans were bitter and angry about it. But did the Mets actually dodge a bullet?
The numbers kind of speak for themselves when you take a look at outfielders age 30 and up who signed long term contracts.
Jason Bay signed for 4 yrs/66 million at age 31. Coming off an incredible 2009 season in Boston with a career-high 36 home runs and 119 RBI, the Mets signed Bay. Bay averaged .229-9-36 with a .688 OPS in 89 games over the life of the deal, finishing out the contract (and his career) in Seattle after the Mets released him in November of 2012.
Carl Crawford signed for 7 yrs/142 million at age 29. Boston thought it was getting an elite offensive and defensive outfielder when it signed Crawford in 2011, but he was far from it. He struggled at the plate in his first season, hitting just .255-11-56 with 18 steals and a .694 OPS in 130 games. The following year Crawford played only 31 games due to injury, struggled to stay healthy for the remainder of his career and was traded to the Dodgers before 2013. Crawford played only six years of the seven-year deal, averaging .271-5-29 with 12 steals in 80 games per season.
Jacoby Ellsbury signed for 7 yrs/153 million at age 30. The outfielder was a very mediocre, overpriced contributor for the Yankees for the life of his contract. He had a decent year in 2014, hitting .271-16-70 with 39 steals and a .747 OPS but averaged just .261-8-43 with 21 steals in 124 games over the next three seasons and missed all of 2018 and 2019 due to injury.
Josh Hamilton signed for 5 yrs/125 million at age 32. The Angels signed Hamilton after hitting 43 home runs and driving in 128 RBI’s. Hamilton hit just .250-21-79 with a .739 OPS and played only 89 games the following year. He had a falling out with the organization after a shoulder injury and a drug relapse and was traded back to Texas in 2015. He played 50 games for the Rangers in 2015, but that was the last we saw of Hamilton.
Vernon Wells signed for 7 yrs/126 million at age 28. Wells was a star in Toronto and got paid like one by Toronto. After hitting .303-32-106 in 2006, he declined to .245-16-80 with an OPS that fell nearly 200 points. He had a bit of a rebound in 2008, with an .840 OPS, but he missed significant time to injury. Wells was inconsistent from year to year for the rest of the contract, posting one more .800-plus OPS, 30 home run season in 2010 but posting a sub-.700 OPS after getting traded to the Angels and later the Yankees from 2011-13.
Alex Gordon signed for 4 yrs/72 million at age 32. Gordon was never a star but always Mr. Reliable. Gordon imploded immediately after resigning, hitting just .220-17-40 in the first year of the contract, and it’s only gotten worse for him. While he did win three Gold Gloves in the four seasons, Gordon averaged .237-13-54 with a .686 OPS at the plate.
Yoenis Cespedes signed for 4 yrs/110 million at age 31. The Mets rewarded Cespedes with a four-year deal in 2017 after he hit 31 home runs and made an All-Star appearance in 2016. He missed more time than he actually played through the length of the deal and sat for all of 2019 due to heel and ankle injuries. He played for about a week in the 2020 season then decided to opt out due to covid.
If history repeats itself, which it usually does it looks like the Mets have actually dodged a bullet with not signing George Springer.
Photo from Bleacher Report