With the 2016 season unfortunately over, it is never too early to check in on the possible Mets payroll for 2017. The Mets could face a cash crunch because their young stars are starting to reach arbitration. So let’s take a look at what the Mets payroll could look like. I’ll be doing this all off-season, so check back often (I can use the traffic!).
Bartolo Colon: $10,000,000 (Free Agent estimate)
Matt Harvey: $6,000,000 (Arbitration estimate)
Jacob deGrom: $5,000,000 (Arb est)
Noah Syndergaard: $600,000 (est)
Steven Matz: $600,000 (est)
Zack Wheeler: $1,000,000 (Arb est)
Jerry Blevins: $6,000,000 (FA est)
Addison Reed: $7,000,000 (Arb est)
Jeurys Familia: $7,000,000 (Arb est)
Hansel Robles: $600,000 (est)
Robert Gsellman: $600,000 (est)
Seth Lugo: $600,000 (est)
Travis d’Arnaud: $1,500,000 (Arb est)
Kevin Plawecki: $600,000 (est)
David Wright: $20,000,000 (actual)
Asdrubal Cabrera: $8,250,000 (actual)
Jose Reyes: $600,000 (est)
Wilmer Flores: $1,500,000 (Arb est)
Kelly Johnson: $2,500,000 (FA est)
Yoenis Cespedes: $23,750,000 (actual)
Curtis Granderson: $15,000,000 (actual)
Juan Lagares: $4,500,000 (actual)
Jay Bruce: $13,000,000 (actual)
Michael Conforto: $600,000 (est)
The Mets are on the hook for $84,500,000 in already-committed dollars. The estimate for free agents and arbitration is $47,500,000. And players still under team control will likely make around the minimum, which I put at $600,000. The total for that is $4,800,000. The grand total is $136,800,000, which is almost identical to the Opening Day payroll for 2016.
The predicted roster is fluid, obviously. Will Gsellman and Lugo both be in the bullpen? Probably not. And guys like T.J. Rivera and Brandon Nimmo might make the team. But for this exercise, I left them out.
A few notes about free agents. I think the Mets will re-sign Colon, Blevins and Kelly Johnson at the predicted salaries.
The Mets will be very busy with arbitration. They have 12 players eligible, but I do not think they will tender all of them. Harvey, deGrom, Familia, Reed, Wheeler, d’Arnaud and Flores will all be tendered contracts, but the jury is still out on Jim Henderson, Josh Edgin, Justin Ruggiano, Rene Rivera, and yes, Lucas Duda.
Duda will likely command $8,000,000 in arbitration, which could be too much given the rest of the salaries on the team. And with the Mets outfield glut, I think Bruce or Conforto (or maybe even Wright) could end up playing first. I can see Sandy Alderson trading Duda before the tender date, just to get something for him.
Rivera did a nice job, but he actually made $1.7 in arbitration last season before being released by the Rays. The Mets paid him the minimum, but he might be at a $2 million level, which might be too much for the Mets.
I can see the Mets signing Henderson and/or Edgin to minor league deals.
Reyes’s 2016 deal included a Mets option for 2017 at the league minimum. The Mets will absolutely exercise that. But don’t start organizing a telethon for Reyes — the Rockies will still pay him $22 million.
And then there is the biggest off-season question — Cespedes. He will almost certainly opt out of his deal, and the Mets will have to decide how far they want to go to re-sign him. Keeping him is a must, and it will impact all of the Mets decisions this winter.
I would be surprised if the 2017 Mets payroll tops $140 million. So they really do not have much wiggle room to improve the team and give expected raises to guys like Harvey, deGrom, Familia and Reed. As always, it will be an interesting winter.