With the 2013 season slipping away, it is not too early to look at what the Mets payroll could look like in 2014. We all know the Mets need at least two power-hitting outfielders, and those types of players do not come cheap. So, can the Mets afford to acquire two sluggers at upwards of $15 million each and still stay below a $100 million payroll, which I believe is the limit for the Wilpons? Let’s take a look:
Matt Harvey: $500,000 (est)
Jonathon Niese: $5,050,000 (actual)
Dillon Gee: $2,000,000 (est)
Zack Wheeler: $500,000 (est)
Noah Syndergaard: $500,000 (est)
Bobby Parnell: $3,000,000 (est)
Josh Edgin: $500,000 (est)
5 relievers: $3,000,000 (est)
Travis d’Arnaud: $500,000 (est)
Anthony Recker: $500,000 (est)
Ike Davis: $3,500,000 (est)
Daniel Murphy: $5,000,000 (est)
Ruben Tejada: $1,000,000 (est)
David Wright: $20,000,000 (actual)
Justin Turner: $1,000,000 (est)
Wilmer Flores: $500,000 (est)
Juan Lagares: $500,000 (est)
Matt den Dekker: $500,000 (est)
Eric Young: $2,000,000 (est)
2 outfielders: $??????????
Johan Santana buyout: $5,500,000 (actual)
Jason Bay buyout: $3,000,000 (actual)
A few notes before we tally up the numbers. You’ll notice that I left Matt Harvey there. Let’s hope he does not need the surgery that would keep him out for the season. But even if he does, his replacement would likely still make around the minimum.
That minimum salary will be exactly $500,000 in 2014. That is what I assigned all of the second-year players, since the Mets have shown in the past that they will not go much further with these non-arbitration players. They might make a little more, but not enough to drastically alter the Mets payroll figures.
I went with Davis and Tejada even though there is a very good chance that neither one will be on the team next season. I’m not even sure Murphy will remain with the team at his payroll level. There will likely be other player changes as well, but for this exercise, let’s include these guys.
And of course, we had to include the Santana and Bay buyouts because the Mets certainly will.
Okay, so the Mets have payroll obligations of $33,550,000 for 2014. Add in the estimated salaries of $25,000,000 and you get a total of $58,550,000. That does not include those two new outfielders. So that means the Mets could conceivably go out and get two guys for $15 million each and that would bring the grand total to $88,550,ooo, well below $100 million and even less than this year’s Mets payroll of $93 million.
But here’s why this might not happen. Between Wright’s $20 million and the fantom players’ $30 million, half of an eventual $100 million payroll will be tied up in just three players. Sandy Alderson has said repeatedly that he does not like to work that way, and there is some merit to that theory.
Another problem is that if all of that young pitching progresses as hoped, they will get very expensive in the coming years. If the Mets have two outfielders tied up for $15 million per year for, say, up to seven years, they may not be able to afford to keep everybody. A team has to keep future budgets in mind, something Omar Minaya never did (or didn’t have to, since the Madoff money was supposed to keep the Mets payroll flush for generations).
Another question is whether the Mets will really spend money this off-season. We’ve heard such proclamations the past couple of years, only to see the Mets payroll continue to plummet. Would anyone really be surprised if the Mets have an $80 million payroll for 2014, using lack of revenue this season as an excuse?
It would be a severe disappointment if the Mets go this route. There is certainly plenty of room in the budget to increase the Mets payroll and make the team better. After suffering through these past few seasons and loyally sticking with the team, Mets fans finally deserve to root for a competitive team with a big-market payroll.