Mets owner Steve Cohen’s tone-deaf tweet on Kumar Rocker situation shows how far MLB still has to go

Never tweet through it, Steve Cohen.

The Mets owner has been equal parts breath of fresh air and troublesome tweeter since taking control of the Mets in 2020; While his candid, honest approach to the Tweet Machine has nurtured goodwill and trust with Mets fans, he’s been known to put one or two or several dumb things into the aether.

On Sunday, the Mets and 2021 first-round pick Kumar Rocker couldn’t strike a deal, which is troubling, to say the least. Cohen took to Twitter to try and explain the business end of it, but just complicated matters.

“Education – Baseball draft picks are worth up to 5x their slot value to clubs .I never shy away from investments that can make me that type of return,” Cohen tweeted on Sunday.

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There are a few unfortunate and enlightening things painted in Cohen’s tweet. The first: Cohen’s claim that picks are “five times” as much as their draft slot value to clubs. That sound you hear is probably the MLBPA screenshotting Cohen’s tweet heading into CBA negotiations this offseason.

The MLB Draft leaves prospects with little to no leverage. Rocker, who has college eligibility left, is opting not to return to Vanderbilt, instead beginning his pro career. He’ll re-enter the draft in 2022, losing out on a year of pro development because the Mets couldn’t get a deal done. The Mets will receive the 11th pick in the first round next season as compensation.

This situation could prove to be a stepping stone to the league and the players trying to find a way to tinker with the draft, with which reforms are sorely needed to help give aspiring players a bit more of a level playing field. The system works, but it’s flawed. The Rocker situation is evidence of that.

The second, less surprising but more potentially more damning bit of the tweet is Cohen implying that a 21-year-old pitcher with tremendous upside is nothing more than an “investment” for the team. Baseball is a business no more or less than your local 7-11, so it’s not surprising to hear an owner refer to a player as an “investment.” It’s still inherently gross language to use, publicly or privately, regarding a player.

If we’re going to stick with the vernacular, a two-time All-American, 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player and 2021 Golden Spikes finalist who never missed a start seems as good of an “investment” as any. The Vanderbilt co-ace was widely considered to be a top-10 prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft, and one of the top three arms to declare.

Even if they want to use the health as the excuse for the non-signing, the Mets went into the process knowing one thing for certain: Rocker is represented by super agent Scott Boras, who is known to, well, get his players paid. To that end, New York and Rocker verbally agreed to a $6 million signing bonus, $1.4 million above slot value, before backing out due to concerns with his medicals.

In turn, the Mets structured their draft in a way that would allow them to pay a little extra to Rocker, but to no avail, apparently.

Baseball is a business. It’s not a secret. Everyone knows that.

Unfortunately, it’s the business of baseball that continues to get in the way. 

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