Mets GM Sandy Alderson made what appeared to be an innocuous comment the other day that could be very ominous for the future of the Mets and, in my opinion, David Wright.
Speaking about the Mets payroll to reporters while visiting Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday, Alderson said:
“We can’t spend at will the same way they can spend. And we’re not going to attempt to try to do that, at least not over the next several years. Our revenues, basically we’ve got to get people back in the ballpark to generate the kind of revenues that would be needed to have an even larger payroll. But the fact is, even at $100 million or $110 million, we’re still in the upper echelon of payrolls. That ought to allow us plenty of latitude.”
Now here’s the thing — in discussing payrolls and the Wilpons’s money problems, Alderson always insisted that he felt the payroll for 2012 would be at around $120 million. Now it’s down to “$100 million or $110 million.”
He also said this:
“It’s very difficult, unless you’re one of a couple of teams, to have three, four guys making $15 million-plus. I don’t care who you are — again, with the exception maybe of a couple of teams.”
The members of the $15 million-plus club on the 2011 Mets are Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran (he still counts in this exercise). Wright is just behind at $14.250 but gets a $1 million raise next season.
I really think the Mets will be able resign Jose Reyes, obviously at more than $15 million per year, so next season they will have four players making $15 million-plus, which apparently is against Alderson’s wishes.
So what might Alderson do to alleviate this problem? Bay is untradeable. So is Santana, for now, anyway. Even if he comes back and pitches a couple of effective games this season, teams will likely want to see if he can pitch for the long haul before taking on the final two years and $55 million of his contract (including a $5.5 million buyout in 2014). If he’s healthy in the first half of 2012, I can see a contender trading for him (assuming the Mets are not contending themselves) and absorbing that last year and a half of the contract.
If Alderson really wants to fix the payroll right away, he could just not resign Reyes (which I don’t think will happen because he sees how important he is to the team) or trade Wright. I fear this is the way Alderson might go.
This would be, in my opinion, worse than when the Mets traded Tom Seaver for the simple reason that Seaver wanted to go; Wright wants to be a Met for the rest of his life.
This will devastate Mets fans, especially if the trade does not result in winning on the field. Imagine if they trade Wright and still continue to lose? The lynch mobs will be calling for Alderson’s head.
I think the best course of action would be to keep Wright and Reyes. It can easily be done and remain in the $100 million-$110 million range. Alderson would just have to cheap-out a bit on other positions, which he might do anyway, then hope Santana is healthy and can be traded. I really like Santana and don’t want to see him traded — when he is on he is unhittable. But he is a luxury the Mets cannot afford. Trading him would solve so many of the team’s problems. Of course, it would leave them without an ace, but that’s a problem for another day.