When I began this admittedly entirely too early look at the 2019 Mets payroll, I had grand plans of proposing that the Mets making a big splash in the free agent market after this season. After all, they’ve got plenty of 2018 salary coming off the books (Devin Meseraco, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jeurys Familia, et al). But it turns out the Mets are screwed. Royally screwed. I’ll elaborate after the rundown:
Jacob deGrom: $12,000,000 (estimate)
Zack Wheeler: $4,000,000 (est)
Noah Syndergaard: $6,000,000 (est)
Steven Matz: $2,000,000 (est)
Jason Vargas: $8,000,000 (actual)
Anthony Swarzak: $8,500,000 (actual)
Robert Gsellman: $600,000 (est)
Seth Lugo: $600,000 (est)
Drew Smith: $600,000 (est)
Tyler Bashlor: $600,000 (est)
Paul Sewald: $600,000 (est)
Corey Oswalt: $600,000 (est)
Travis d’Arnaud: $4,000,000 (est)
Kevin Plawecki: $1,500,000 (est)
David Wright: $15,000,000 (actual)
Wilmer Flores: $5,000,000 (est)
Todd Frazier: $9,000,000 (actual)
Amed Rosario: $600,000 (est)
Jeff McNeil: $600,000 (est)
Peter Alonso: $600,000 (est)
Yoenis Cespedes: $29,000,000 (actual)
Jay Bruce: $14,000,000 (actual)
Juan Lagares: $9,000,000 (actual)
Michael Conforto: $2,000,000 (est)
Brandon Nimmo: $600,000 (est)
So the Mets have $92,500,000 in actual salaries committed for next season, plus $42,500,000 in estimated salaries. That comes out to $135 million. Assuming the payroll holds steady at $150 million or so, that does not leave the Mets a lot of room to improve the team.
But, you say, maybe the Mets can dump some salary. That would be nice, but is anyone taking Jason Vargas? Or Anthony Swarzak? Or Todd Frazier? Or Jay Bruce? All members of Sandy Alderson’s ill-advised most recent off-season spending spree. The answer is no. The Mets are stuck with all of them.
So the Mets might end up filling a few holes and going into the season with the roughly the same team they have this season. Not a recipe for success that will send fans flocking to sign up for season tickets.
So is there anything they can do? Maybe.
The first thing they can do is just end the Mets career of Travis d’Arnaud and non-tender him. The guy just can’t be relied upon to stay healthy. Take that $4 million and sign a guy like Yasmani Grandal for around $8 million on a one year deal. J.T. Realmuto would be my first choice. He will probably earn around $6 million in arbitration. but the Mets probably do not have the goods to land him.
Unless they sign Manny Machado to play shortstop, allowing them to trade Rosario and others for Realmuto. With teams wary of long-term contracts, would Machado take five years, $150 million from the Mets (or anyone)? That would be a budget-buster, but the Mets could backload the deal, increasing it as the terrible contracts expire over the next few years. If he takes, say, $15 million in the first year, that would leave the Mets close to $150 million.
Even under this scenario, the Mets would have very little cushion. They would have to pray everyone stays healthy and productive, Yoenis Cespedes can come back at some point and guys like Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso are real major leaguers.
That bullpen still looks a little shaky, though. How about Craig Kimbrel? Three years, $45 million? Again, backload it to keep the 2019 Mets payroll reasonable.
I know I am living in dreamland, hoping the Mets go out and sign two of the top free agents available at team-friendly deals and trade for a young star. It is not likely to happen. But for the Mets to be competitive in 2019, they have to make some bold moves. Boldness was not a trait of Sandy Alderson; maybe the new guy will have that.
The window is closing quickly on this team. The Mets need to make moves to keep it open.