Thoughts on Fred Wilpon’s Payroll Comments


Over the last few days, there has been an uproar among some in the fanbase regarding a quote that was made by Fred Wilpon in the New York Times.  The words that were uttered by the owner had to do with payroll and involved Sandy Alderson saying that investing a psychotic amount of money in a short amount of time wasn’t in the best interest of the club.  Here’s the quote from the Times:

May 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon walks off the field after watching batting practice before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

"Asked if the team payroll, which is now about $90 million, will soon enough return to the $140 million level it stood at several years ago, Wilpon said: ‘I asked Sandy about that. He said he couldn’t invest that much money.’"

If you’re a casual fan who isn’t aware of how little the Mets have committed to the payroll for 2014, this quote may have made you angry.  If you’re someone who’s in tune with the future payroll specifics, the quote should’ve made total sense to you.

As is his wont, Howard Megdal of Capital New York used the Times article to claim that Fred Wilpon is “blaming” the Mets’ potential lack of spending on Alderson.  Megdal is certainly entitled to his opinion, and he’s clearly well informed when it comes to the financial issues the Mets are still facing, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with the quote that was made by Wilpon.

Presently, the Mets have only $33.5 million committed to player salaries for the 2014 season.  Factoring in players who are likely to receive raises through arbitration and those who will be earning close to the league minimum, that number should climb to roughly $50 million.

In order for their payroll to approach $140 million in 2014, the Mets would have to spend $90 million dollars in one offseason on free agents. Forget the fact that this year’s free agent class is weak…spending that much money in one offseason would be absurd.  It would be a horrible business decision – spending for the sake of spending.  Frankly, it makes absolutely no sense.

When you revisit Wilpon’s quote, this is how it reads:

He was asked if the payroll would “soon enough” approach $140 million, and he responded by saying that Sandy Alderson felt it was unwise to invest that much money in such short order.  Even if you want to classify “soon enough” as the 2015 season, it would still be a ridiculous amount of money to spend.

Aside from Jonathon Niese, the Mets have a starting rotation comprised of players who will all be making close to the league minimum.  Aside from Bobby Parnell, the same can be said for the members of the bullpen.  Aside from David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis (if he’s tendered), the rest of the position players are making peanuts.

Most fans expect the Mets to be active in free agency this winter, targeting impact outfielders.  If the Mets fail to upgrade the outfield via trade before this month’s deadline, an ideal scenario could be adding two of Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jacoby Ellsbury via free agency.

If the Mets were to add two of those players, the payroll would probably jump an additional $30 million to $35 million.  That would bring the total payroll to between $80 million and $85 million.  Sandy Alderson has stated numerous times that he can see the 2014 payroll falling somewhere between $90 million and $100 million.

Theoretically, the Mets can bring back all of the core pieces from this year’s team, sign two of Beltran, Choo, and Ellsbury, add a few more pieces, and have a payroll around what Alderson figures it’ll be (betewen $90 million and $100 million).

When it comes time to pony up for Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and/or any other young player who emerges, the payroll will climb further.  By that time, attendance will likely have improved dramatically (with the team being a contender), making such an increase smart business wise and imperative baseball wise.

In the meantime, there’s no need to flip out over an innocuous quote that makes perfect sense.

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