On Tuesday afternoon, while kicking off a conference call to announce Sandy Alderson’s extension, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon weighed in on the team’s payroll. Said Wilpon:
"We want Sandy to continue to explore all the ways to improve the team. He does have payroll flexibility whether through free agency or trades."
According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Mets’ payroll has dipped from a shade under $143 million in 2011 to roughly $85 million on Opening Day of 2014.
At present, the Mets have $54.5 million in salary commitments for 2015. However, that’s before expected arbitration raises.
Raises via arbitration for Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee, Lucas Duda, and Jenrry Mejia will likely add about $20 million to the $54.5 million total, and another $10 million or so to non arbitration-eligible players who need to be tendered contracts needs to be factored in. Put it all together, and the Mets will have just about $85 million committed in 2015 before any additional moves are made.
When it comes to the Mets and “payroll flexibility,” it will have to be seen to be believed.
If you’re taking Jeff Wilpon at face value, one can infer that the Mets have the ability to raise their payroll above its current threshold. If that turns out to be true, the Mets will actually be in fantastic position to improve the roster this winter.
However, with the way the payroll has trended and comments from Sandy Alderson (conveying ownership’s thoughts) that any increase in payroll will be commensurate with an increase in attendance, many will be skeptical of any potential payroll flexibility.
The same was the case last year when the Mets said they would reinvest in players after tons of money came off the books. They were doubted, but they did indeed replenish the big league roster with free agents who cost a combined $30 million or so in 2014.
The next step for the Mets, and something that would get them back in the good graces of the fans, is to expand payroll further – perhaps to roughly $100 million.
The Mets feel they can contend in 2015. A league and market-appropriate payroll would certainly help.