Why the Mets' vets wanted to team up in NY
This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
David Robertson won a ring during his first full big league season in 2009. He remembers the confidence of that Yankees team, the feeling that they would and could win every night. Robertson figured he would get back to that stage plenty over his career.
Adam Ottavino didn’t reach the playoffs until he was 32 years old. He was in the Cardinals' organization when they won the World Series in 2011 but didn't pitch in the Majors that season. He’s since been to the postseason in five consecutive years -- but not the Fall Classic.
At 37 years old, both Robertson and Ottavino understand their chances for further October glory are limited. As free agents this past offseason, each tried to negotiate with teams that had a legitimate chance to win the World Series. They ultimately wound up with the Mets.
“I think that there’s a classic progression in the big leagues that everybody talks about,” Ottavino said. “It’s like, getting to the big leagues, being happy you’re there, then proving you can stay. Then making a lot of money, and then winning. That usually comes last for most guys.”
Some players, Ottavino continued, are lucky enough to win along the way -- Robertson is a prime example as a pitcher who won a title before he had his first million in the bank. But many are not. That includes Mets veterans in their 30s such as Eduardo Escobar, José Quintana, Darin Ruf, Starling Marte and Tommy Pham, who are all searching for their first ring.
Robertson, Ottavino, Pham and Quintana all prioritized the end goal in free agency this offseason. Ottavino enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in Queens last year, and he relished the idea of running it back -- only this time, with a bit more October success. Robertson surveyed his own options and figured the Mets were a club that could give him a shot at that elusive second championship.
“Having been right on the cusp a bunch of times, you definitely realize how hard it is,” Robertson said. “It’s a long season. To finally get to that point where it’s just your team versus the other team for it all, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of things have to go right for that to end up happening.”
Upon arriving at camp last month, Pham said he signed with the Mets specifically because he considered New York his best chance to win. For many players, Ottavino said, that’s always the motivation. Others can be more self-serving, valuing geography, money or family concerns over the pursuit of a championship.
Just not him. Not Robertson. Not the veterans the Mets signed this winter.
“For me,” Ottavino said, “it’s a no-brainer that any team I would sign with at least has a chance to be in the playoffs.”