John Curtiss exemplifies Steve Cohen’s Mets stewardship

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Next to Justin Verlander’s locker in the Mets clubhouse in Port St. Lucie is the one for John Curtiss. 

Verlander’s addition this offseason thanks to a two-year, $86.7 million deal signaled once again how much different the Mets are operating under the stewardship of owner Steve Cohen.

But having Curtiss around also represents the fact the Mets are finally acting like a true superpower. 

A year ago, the Mets were the only team to offer the right-hander a major league deal after Curtiss tore his UCL the previous August, while pitching for the Brewers.

It allowed Curtiss a year to rehab from surgery, while gaining another year of service time. 

It’s something the Yankees have done in the past and the Dodgers did more recently with Tommy Kahnle before he returned to The Bronx this past offseason. 

Mets relief pitcher John Curtiss (46) throws a pitch during spring training workouts
John Curtiss missed all last season rehabbing from surgerywhile under contract with the Mets.

“Players are extremely aware of what the Mets are doing,’’ said Curtiss, who was in the bullpen for the Mets’ game against the Astros at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Tuesday. 

“I was impressed by Steve even before I signed with the team,’’ Curtiss said. “It’s not just the money they spend, it’s the wanting to win.

“We don’t need 30 Steve Cohen billionaire owners willing to spend everything, but we should have 30 teams trying to win. I’m grateful to be in a place where they looked at a guy like me and were willing to take a chance.” 

For the Mets and their payroll that sits around $350 million — and would have been even higher had the Carlos Correa deal not fallen through due to his physical — Curtiss’ salary isn’t even a drop in the bucket. 

Curtiss, who turns 30 next month, is set to make less than $1.5 million total over last year and 2023.

He was productive enough before the elbow injury that he pitched to a 1.075 WHIP in 35 games with the Marlins before being traded to Milwaukee at the deadline.

Mets relief pitcher John Curtiss throws in the eighth inning of a Spring Training game
Curtiss was surprised when the Mets offered him a contract despite his UCL.
Corey Sipkin for NY Post

And Curtiss was solid over 17 appearances with the Rays in 2020. 

But the Mets were the only team interested in giving him a major league deal in 2022. 

“That’s a whole economic and labor thing,’’ Curtiss said. “I’m not surprised 29 other teams didn’t want to pay me another year of service time and minimum for me to rehab.

“Only big-market teams do that. Now, was I surprised about having gone from a trade-deadline chip that went to a team trying to win a World Series to then not being on a 40-man roster? That’s a different question.” 

It’s one he understands as a reliever who has pitched more than 25 innings in the majors just once. 

“That’s how it is as a reliever,’’ Curtiss said. “If you’re healthy and producing, you get a job. But if not, you don’t, and that’s just the way it goes.” 

If he returns to form, the Mets have Curtiss under control until 2026. 

“I was thrilled to come here because I wanted to be on a contender,’’ Curtiss said. “I couldn’t be more grateful to be here with this team. I’m sincerely trying to pay them back for the favor they did for me last year.

“It truly meant something to me and I want to make it worth their while.”