There will be no homecoming for Long Island’s Steven Matz.
And Mets owner Steve Cohen isn't pleased about it.
Matz, a former star at Ward Melville High School who most recently pitched for the Blue Jays, shunned the team he was drafted by and came up with in the big leagues, agreeing to a four-year, $44-million deal with the Cardinals late Tuesday night.
ESPN first reported the parameters of the agreement, which apparently spurred Cohen to take to Twitter early Wednesday.
"I’m not happy this morning," Cohen tweeted. "I’ve never seen such unprofessional behavior exhibited by a player’s agent. I guess words and promises don’t matter."
It was not clear what exactly angered Cohen regarding Matz’s representative, Rob Martin.
Martin did not immediately return a text seeking comment on the owner’s tweet but later released a statement.
"We are aware of Mr. Cohen’s tweet. It’s unfortunate that he chose to take his frustrations to Twitter. I will not do the same, and instead will take the high road which is consistent with both my character and the character of our client," Martin wrote in his statement. "Steven Matz grew up a Mets fan, loved his time there, and continues to invest in the New York Community through his efforts supporting NY’s First Responders. As a result of all that, there was a strong pull to return to the Mets. But ultimately he made the decision he felt was best for him and his family. Steven is and always will be grateful to the Mets and Mets fans, but he now looks forward to his next chapter with the tremendous franchise in St. Louis."
The Mets, in the market for at least two starting pitchers this offseason, were hopeful of bringing Matz back to Queens. The Mets traded Matz, a second-round pick of the franchise in 2009, to the Blue Jays late last January in exchange for pitchers Yennsy Diaz, Sean Reid-Foley and Josh Winckowski.
It was in Toronto where Matz, now 30, at last seemed to develop into the kind of consistent rotation option the Mets always envisioned him becoming, going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA and striking out 144 in 150 2/3 innings. The Blue Jays, one of a handful of teams making an offer to Matz, did not extend the pitcher the $18.4 million qualifying offer, meaning whichever team ended up signing him would not have to forfeit a draft pick to Toronto as compensation.
It is not yet known the financial package Cohen allowed his new general manager, Billy Eppler, to present to Matz, nor was it known what any of the other teams involved offered. Among the clubs reportedly having a significant interest were the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels and Cardinals. Tthe Angels within the last 10 days signed two pitchers that Mets had an interest in retaining – Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Loup.
During last Friday’s Zoom press conference introducing Eppler, Cohen said price would not be an obstacle in putting together the 2022 roster.
"I’ve let Billy know that I'm willing to, for the right deals and the right free agents, to go and get the players we need," Cohen said. "We want to be competitive, right? We want to win our division and be in the playoffs and get deep into the playoffs, right? So we've got to field the team that has the ability to do that, and so I've let Billy and [team president] Sandy [Alderson] know that it's whatever they need."
There have been no indications that the Mets and money are an issue – as in so many past winters under the Wilpons. Yet, Matz, who has lived full-time in Nashville, Tennessee, for several years, became the latest example of someone choosing not to work in Flushing.
"I’ll continue to tweet, probably not as much as I did previously," Cohen said last Friday of an activity more than a few in the industry have speculated as doing the owner more harm than good. "I didn’t want to turn this [the Mets GM search] into a game. Now that [it’s over] I’ll probably get back on and see how it goes. We’ll see. I think people like it, so why not keep doing it?"
Notes: Robinson Cano, due back to the Mets next season after missing all of 2021 because of a PED-related suspension, was removed from the Estrellas Orientales Dominican Winter League roster with "lower back discomfort," the Mets announced Wednesday afternoon. The team said the 39-year-old Cano, a native of the Dominican who has been playing with Estrellas since Nov. 11, has "been prescribed physical therapy and is considered week to week." Cano is owed in the neighborhood of $20 million each of the next two seasons. ... The Mets announced Wednesday they claimed righty Antonio Santos off waivers from the Rockies. The 25-year-old Santos, who debuted in September 2020, posted a 4.76 ERA in seven games. ... The Mets announced Wednesday that they agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Nick Plummer. Plummer slashed .280/.415/.479 with 20 doubles, six triples, 15 homers, 54 RBI, 71 runs scored, 73 walks and 13 stolen bases in 117 combined games last season in the Cardinals organization with Springfield (AA) and Memphis (AAA).