Photo: Rebecca Gratz/AP
So much for Kumar Rocker being the next Dwight Gooden.
So much for him and Jacob deGrom forming the next dynamic duo in the starting rotation in a year or so.
Those dreams died when the Mets did not sign the No. 10 draft pick before Sunday’s 5 p.m. ET signing deadline. So now Rocker has to wait until next season to be drafted and the Mets will receive the 11th pick in the 2022 draft as compensation for not signing him. Oh, and I am not going out on a limb to say he will not be drafted by the Mets after hard feelings from him and his agent Scott Boras.
The Mets questioned the health of Rocker’s arm after his physical examination went bad, which is why they decided not to sign him. No matter how the Mets spin it, it’s a bad look for them. There’s no question about it.
They should have either worked around it or they should have not signed him at all. I would have gone with the latter since it was clear the Mets were not ready to pay up, which makes me wonder why they drafted the Vanderbilt righty in the first place.
No question the Mets knew about Rocker’s medical report. They had to. If they really didn’t, that’s a bad job by Mets president Sandy Alderson and Mets general manager Zack Scott for not doing enough due diligence. For them to say about Boras being disingenuous and not knowing how bad Rocker’s arm was, that’s making revisionist history. Nothing worse than anyone making up revisionist history as a cover.
The Mets also had to know Rocker and Boras would not accept anything less than $6 million despite being the No. 10 pick. They had to pay above the slot value for this to work. Everyone figured it would not be a problem since Mets owner Steve Cohen would be happy to take the plunge. After all, everyone knows Cohen has more money where it came from after completing the $2.4 billion purchase of the Mets this offseason.
In this case, Cohen decided to listen to his baseball people. He should be commended for that, but he also should be ridiculed for that. Ridiculed only because he decided Rocker was not worth the cost. Part of being a successful businessman is taking risks. For the Mets owner decided it was not worth the sinking cost, then it showed he was being scared. This should be disappointing.
If it didn’t work, at least Cohen and the Mets showed they tried to invest in a player that could end up being a star. When a player like Rocker falls that low, a team like the Mets should take the risk. There was a reason the Mets fans applauded the team for drafting him.
For Cohen and the Mets to back off, that does not speak well of them. The Mets owner tweeted he never shied away from investments that can make him that type of return makes them even worse since he basically lied with his action, not to mention he looked at Rocker as an asset than a human being at best. It’s not a way to build capital with future players.
Cohen also indirectly questioned Rocker and Boras’ intentions, which does not bode well in future negotiations when Boras’ clients enter free agency, especially Michael Conforto this offseason.
The Mets knew Rocker was a player they couldn’t pass up. He fell into a position where the team couldn’t pass the best player available. After all, he was polished and he is a pitcher that could have been closest to a sure thing. They had to know about him yet they drafted him anyway. It could also be they were scared to pay him, which if that was really the case, they shouldn’t have drafted him.
It also raises questions about Cohen. Is he going to be serious about paying the price for a player that wants to play here? We all defended Cohen so far, but sooner or later he needs to back it up with actions. Signing Francisco Lindor is not going to be enough. Remember the Wilpons also paid players such as Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. Cohen has to do more than getting Lindor.
If Cohen has second thoughts on Rocker, what’s going to happen when the next free agent wants to sign with the Mets or if a draft pick signs with them?
In drafting Rocker, there was plenty to gain than lose. If it didn’t work, that’s baseball. Hard to predict injuries or what happens in the game. The Mets showed they tried.
Instead, they set themselves up for ridicule and questions. Not only they came off cheap in a moment of truth, but they wasted a draft pick for nothing.
No matter how you slice it, there’s no defending them from another #LOLMets moment.