Let’s face it — 2010 is over for the New York Mets. It’s time to start looking towards 2011, and what the Mets can do to make this a better club. By all accounts, with attendance down and the potential Madoff loses still a mystery, the Wilpons do not want to expand the payroll over this year’s $126 million. If that is indeed the case, the Mets are in bad shape. They owe nearly $120 million to just ten players next season. That includes the likely pick-up of Jose Reyes’ $11 million option, and a $10 million raise in Jason Bay’s contract. Thanks to the good folks at Cot’s Contracts, these are the Mets obligations for 2011:
Johan Santana: $22.5 million
Carlos Beltran: $20.071 million
Jason Bay: $18.125 million
David Wright: $14.25 million
Francisco Rodriguez: $12.167 million
Oliver Perez: $12 million
Jose Reyes: $ 11 million
Luis Castillo: $6.25 million
Ryota Igarashi: $1.750 million
(Gary Matthews, Jr. $1 million)
TOTAL $119.263 million
Here’s what it looks like if they round out the team with their current players:
Unsigned with estimated 2011 salaries:
Pedro Feliciano: $3 million
Angel Pagan: $3 million
Hisanori Takahashi: $2 million
R.A. Dickey: $2 million
Mike Pelfrey: $2 million
Jon Niese: $1 million
Henry Blanco: $1 million
Elmer Dessens: $1 million
Mike Hessman: $500,000
Daniel Murphy: $500,000
Chris Carter: $500,000
Ike Davis: $500,000
Pat Misch: $500,000
Bobby Parnell: $500,000
Ruben Tejada: $500,000
Josh Thole: $500,000
TOTAL: $19 million
That’s $138.263 million — let’s call it $138 million to make life easier. That’s $12 million more than this year. If the Mets can get rid of Perez’s and Castillo’s contracts, all of their problems will be solved. But for the sake of this exercise (as well as reality), let’s assume that will be impossible. The Mets’ dream of dumping K-Rod’s contract will also not be considered here.
So, do the Mets have any way of improving this club and chopping the payroll? I say, uh, maybe. It has to begin with Carlos Beltran. Beltran’s $20 million is a luxury the limited-budget Mets can no longer afford. It’s a luxury most teams can’t afford — except for the Red Sox, who need a centerfielder. I propose they swap Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Red Sox are rich with starting pitching, and have cheaper alternatives that Dice-K. He is a back-of-the-rotation guy for the Sox — he would be the number two guy in Flushing. Matsuzaka makes $10 million each of the next two seasons, so the money is a wash. But it gives the Mets $10 million of flexibility in 2011.
Now the Mets need a centerfielder. I don’t think Angel Pagan is the answer. He has been excellent this season — perhaps the team’s MVP — but I think he is overachieving, and will come down to earth next season. Let’s hope the Dodgers think I’m wrong, because I propose trading Pagan and a top prospect for Matt Kemp. Kemp appears to be falling out of favor in Los Angeles, and his agent has suggested a trade. Kemp, whom I think is a superstar in the making, is signed for $7 million for 2011. I estimate Pagan will end up with about $3 million, giving the divorcing McCourts a much needed $4 million in savings. However, it’s $4 million more for the Mets.
For right field, I say sign Carl Crawford or Adam Dunn, praying the Mets can get one of them for $10 million per season. That figure could be a pipe dream, but let’s go with that number for now.
So what started as a $138 million payroll has jumped to $142 with my moves — the wrong direction. Now I have $16 million to cut. Getting rid of Pedro Feliciano, who is an overrated, situational luxury the Mets cannot afford, would save $3 million. Having Omir Santos as a backup instead of Henry Blanco saves around a million. That leaves $12 million to go, with not much easily trimmable fat.
Remember when I said I wouldn’t consider the possibility of getting rid of Perez, Castillo or Rodriguez? Well, I’m considering it now. Perhaps the Mets can find a team that just absolutely loves one of their prospects, and they can force them to take Perez or Castillo as part of the deal. Or maybe the Mets win their grievance with K-Rod. That’s actually a more realistic possibility. If none of these things happens, Dunn or Crawford in right will not happen either, and the Mets will go with Fernando Martinez or another low-cost option. It shows just how damaging the Perez and Castillo deals are.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be a long off season for the Mets. They will need to be very creative in order to build a winning team. Being creative is not Omar Minaya’s forte, which is why I think it is imperative that he be removed as GM. If not, 2011 will be yet another lost season.