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Mudville: April 20, 2024 9:25 am PDT


Let’s call it the $CF.

Everyone likes abbreviations these days. It’s a time saver and it’s easy to read.

So what does $CF stand for in 2022… three of the scariest words in baseball for the owners. The two scariest words for owners are $cott Boras so when $CF and $B collide, baseball worlds are shattered.

$CF is the Steve Cohen Factor.

It started out slow, but now it is here to stay for baseball and the Mets owner has all the other owners scared to death, except for the owners that don’t care about their teams; they will just gladly take their money and run and tell the gullible fans: “We are building for the future.’’

I love the $CF.

For lots of reasons. Other owners are getting a dose of their own money medicine because they have to reach into their pockets and spend their money. All it takes is a whisper that Steve Cohen is getting involved in a free agent’s world and the contract skyrockets.

And by the way, it’s going to get even more interesting next off-season when Shohei Ohtani hits the open market as a free agent. I am already envisioning a war of East Coast vs. West Coast with the Mets and Dodgers in the fight for Ohtani. More on that later.

Let’s get back to this market and this year and what is really happening, not just GMs losing their minds over mega-deals.

Steve Cohen is not going away and his billions of dollars have changed the baseball market forever.

The Steve Cohen Factor just happened to the San Francisco Giants.

Word leaked that Steve Cohen and the Mets might be considering Carlos Correa to play third base with his good buddy at shortstop Francisco Lindor and all of a sudden the Giants forked over the most money for a shortstop in baseball history, $350 million for 13 years.

Welcome to the off-season of Forever Contracts.

This is going to change the landscape quite a bit. In some respects players are back to being with one team for the bulk of their careers so you better be right in your long-term judgments and keep those players healthy. That’s a must with Super Contracts.

Let’s start with the shortstops. Correa, 13 years, $350 million to sign with the Giants. Trea Turner, 11 years, $300 million to sign with the Phillies. Xander Bogaerts 11 years, $280 million to sign with the Padres, who by the way have a shortstop under contract in Fernando Tatis Jr., a mere $340 million over 14 years, not counting the time he is suspended from baseball for PEDs.

See what I mean about making good long-term gambles and knowing your player? Let it ride!

You can point back to Steve Cohen for many of these deals because it was Cohen who signed Lindor to that 10-year, $341 million extension with the Mets in 2021. The bar was set for elite shortstops. Steve Cohen made his mark at shortstop. The art collector is just out there collecting baseball art for the Mets.

Maybe in October of 2023 the Mets will get out of the wild card round for Cohen, a small triumph for such a large payroll.

Way back on November 24, 2021, I wrote on BallNine that it will be interesting to see how Cohen reacts to the nightmare scenario of losing Jacob deGrom to another team as a free agent, again, way ahead of the curve, well, now we know how Steve Cohen would react.

Spend lots and lots of cash.

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen talks to the news media at spring training camp at Clover Park, in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on March 13, 2022. (Photo by Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Uncle Steve is buying all the baseball art he can and is also bidding up other teams’ art they must have at any cost – just like at an art auction. It really is something to behold and marvel at – and baseball is changed forever – and Steve Cohen is the best financial friend these players have ever had in their lives.

Other notable monster contracts this off-season:

Edwin Diaz signed back with the Mets to a contract that could go six years and bring him $118.25 million. Thank you again @StevenACohen2 and Point 72 Ventures.

The mere threat of Jacob deGrom going back to the Mets forced the Texas Rangers to shell out a five-year deal worth $185 million to deGrom.

Once again Steve Cohen is in the middle of $FC dealings.

Aaron Judge set the off-season on fire with his nine-year, $360 million deal to return to the Yankees after bashing an AL record 62 home runs and being named AL MVP in 2022. Cohen stayed out of this one because it became a sluggo fight between the Yankees, Giants and the late-to-the-party Padres, who settled for Bogaerts instead of Judge.

The Giants were in the running here for Judge but could not close the deal and went to Plan B, essentially spending the same amount of money for Correa, again, thanks to Cohen’s Mets getting into the talks.

Centerfielder Brandon Nimmo came back to Steve Cohen (Mr. Nimmo knew where his bread was buttered) for eight years and $162 million, setting that market as well. So essentially when you look at the shortstop market and the impact Steve Cohen’s mere presence had on other free agent players, it pretty much all comes back to $CF.

Can’t wait until $CF comes into play for Ohtani when he is a free agent after the 2023 season and maybe Ohtani reuniting with GM Billy Eppler.

The Yankees have their 2022 AL MVP and maybe Cohen can land the 2021 AL MVP in Ohtani.

Mets fans are in heaven right now, a little different feeling than the October crash and burn against the Padres. Essentially Hal Steinbrenner had to keep up with Cohen and could not let Judge escape to the West Coast or else he would be forever booed at Yankee Stadium.

The newest San Francisco Giant, Carlos Correa. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for adidas)

Indirectly the $CF had a major impact on the Yankees in that respect.

Steve Cohen is not going away and his billions of dollars have changed the baseball market forever.

Let’s not forget Uncle Steve’s reaction to deGrom becoming a Texas Ranger. He went right out and signed Justin Verlander to a two-year-deal for $86,666,666, that’s $43,333,333 million per season to pair up with his other aging ace in Max Scherzer, who will also make $43,333,333 this season.

Verlander and Scherzer were long, long ago Tigers teammates. Verlander was in Detroit from 2005 through 2016 while Scherzer was there from 2010 through 2014.

Wouldn’t it be cool to hop into a baseball time machine and go back to 2011 to Lakeland, Florida and the Tigers delightful spring training home and casually walk up to Verlander and Scherzer in the clubhouse and say, “By the way, fellas, I’m from the future, and some (crazy about the Mets) rich guy is going to buy the Mets and pay each of you $43 million to pitch in 2023. That’s only the half of it.

“Have a good day!’’

Then walk out.

“Wait, what did you say?’’ Scherzer and Verlander would yell across the room and I would offer, “Sorry, I have to run, there is this kid I have to see in Viera named Bryce Harper, who will someday sign a $330 million deal with the Phillies, and they also will be paying their shortstop $300 million.’’

‘Wait! What?’’

Now that would be something.

Uncle Steve also went out on the international market to sign Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga to a five-year deal worth $75 million. That’s a lot of money to spend on what some scouts have told BallNine to be a No. 3 starter, but maybe Senga will shine with the Mets and maybe he will have another Japanese player as a teammate in 2024, a guy who pitches and hits: The Great Ohtani.

Mets fans can finally dream and dream and dream.

Then there was the added bullpen help in signing veteran arm in David Robertson, a one-year deal for $10 million. And I almost forgot the Mets and Cohen signed veteran starter Jose Quintana to a two-year $26 million deal.

Steven Cohen, chairman and chief executive officer of SAC Captial Advisors LP, speaks during the Robin Hood Veterans Summit in New York, U.S., on Monday, May 7, 2012. The one-day summit discusses transitioning the country's armed forces personnel back to civilian life. (Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

So to recap, Steve Cohen got himself a proven ace in Verlander, a veteran pitcher in Quintana, a proven centerfielder and leadoff hitter in Nimmo, the return of Diaz the incredible closer; Senga, who needs to prove he can make the jump to the major leagues from Japan, all for about $461.7 million, while the Giants spent $350 on Correa, a two-time All-Star at shortstop. And Cohen got some bullpen help too in Robertson.

That’s swimming in the deep end of the pool.

It would be fun if the Giants and Mets hooked up in the postseason in 2023 to see who will make out better in all this, but to be fair the Giants have Correa for 13 years or until he is 40 years old to play this out. Earlier in his career Correa had some back issues so this will be quite the test.

What’s really amazing about this is that the Houston Astros, the team everyone hates, especially Dodgers fans and Yankees fans for their 2017 Trash Can championship, have absorbed all of these star losses since 2019 in Gerrit Cole, George Springer, Correa, who went to the Twins a year ago, and now Verlander and they are the defending World Champions.

The Dodgers-Giants Cali battle will go to another level with Correa, the 2017 shortstop of the hated Astros, on board for San Francisco.

Money is no guarantee of championships, of course, but you have to spend a certain amount to be in the running. It’s not just the highest payroll that wins this thing called the World Series and there is a much different time than the days when the Yankees, known as the U.S. Steel Yankees, dominated the World Series because now with all the levels of playoffs and the pitfalls of pitching these days when the new age GMs refuse to let a pitcher who is dominating stay in the game for any real length in the postseason, except for Dusty Baker and the Astros and funny how that all worked out.

It’s like I say, Astros owner Jim Crane is the best GM in baseball.

So you have Super Contracts and Super Egos in the front office and behind every analytical laptop in the organization to deal with along the way to a championship. Plus you have to stay healthy and the baseball has to bounce your way.

It’s all pretty amazing. It’s not just about signing the big checks but it sure helps to load up in the off-season, especially on the mound, and let it all play out on the diamond.

The $CF plays a huge role in all this.

So does finding a young cost-effective shortstop with the talent level of Jeremy Pena to replace Correa. That’s what makes baseball so wonderful and so unpredictable – and maybe the Yankees will venture to take that route this upcoming season while the Mets spend big at shortstop and so many other places.

The $CF is full go.

45+ years, columnist at NY Post for the last 23 years prior to joining BallNine. Elected to the NY Baseball Hall of Fame. Former SportsTalk Host (KFMB), ESPN’s First Take and Cold Pizza contributor. Frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts nationwide. Author of seven books. Seen in episode 10 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” (the one with Dennis Rodman). First baseball interview he conducted was with Thurman Munson. Now you know why he is America’s Most Beloved Sportswriter.

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