On Tuesday I wrote a post that an estimate by the Associated Press pegged the 2013 Opening Day Mets payroll at $88,887,033, lower than the $94,508,822 they had last season. It also confirmed my own prediction made months ago that the Mets payroll would be lower this season. I thought that estimate was a bit low and was waiting for Cot’s Baseball Contracts to weigh in. That fine website did so on Wednesday.
Cot’s puts the Opening Day Mets payroll at $93,684,590, still lower than in 2012. Back in December I speculated that the payroll could be less than $90 million. I did not anticipate the Shaun Marcum signing for $4 million or I would have been right on the mark. I was right that the payroll would be lower, despite Sandy Alderson’s statements that he was ready to open the checkbook.
The salary figures are interesting to look at. It appears the Mets have some sort of formula when it comes to renewing contracts for players not yet eligible for arbitration. Why else would Lucas Duda be making $519,240 and Ruben Tejada $514,701? Not exactly round numbers.
It also shows that the Mets are not particularly generous to the players at their mercy. Tejada and Duda are starters. They couldn’t give them a little more, say $750,000? Backups Justin Turner and Mike Baxter make only slightly less than the starters.
Of course, the Mets are not alone in this. The Angels renewed Mike Trout for $510,000. After the season he had, they couldn’t be nice and give him a million bucks?
Of course, this shows why the Mets (and other teams) are intent on leaving players down on the farm for as long as possible. If Ike Davis had been brought up in mid season in 2010 instead of at the end of April, he would not have been eligible for arbitration this past off season. So instead of earning $3.125 million in 2013, the Mets would have renewed him in the Duda/Tejada neighborhood.
Maybe it is time to change the rules about what constitutes a year of service time for arbitration and free agent purposes. I’m not sure exactly what to do, but something must be done to allow the best young players to start their seasons in the big leagues when they are ready to do so, and not be kept in the minors just to save a team a few dollars. It is not fair to the players and it is not fair to the fans.