Released Mets pitcher will still earn $217K for hitting the bricks

That's a nice severance pay.
Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets
Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The difference between a Major League Baseball team and your average Joe Nobody is a $217,000 lapse in judgment is something most of us cannot afford. The New York Mets have released pitcher Phil Bickford after he cleared waivers and will now owe him $217K of the projected salary he won through arbitration.

As Tim Healey explains, not all of the cash was guaranteed. 

Bickford’s time with the Mets is now over. He’ll join the growing population of others who failed to make their teams’ 40-man or Opening Day rosters. Hoping to latch on somewhere, likely on a minor league deal, this was an outcome always destined to happen. The $217K will hardly hold the Mets back from spending, though. After all, it’s far from the only deadweight on the payroll.

How much are the Mets paying players not on the roster in 2024 now?

According to Spotrac, these are the retained salaries for 2024:

Max Scherzer: $30,833,333
Justin Verlander $25 million
James McCann $8 million
Adam Ottavino $500K (from opting out)
Yohan Ramirez $100K (this appears to be as a result of the trade that brought him here)

This comes out to $64,433,333. Add in Bickford’s $217K and the Mets now have $64,650,333 on retained salaries. Barely a dent in comparison.

The Mets do, of course, have the deferred salaries of Bobby Bonilla and Bret Saberhagen. Even adding in the $1,193,248 owed to Bonilla and $250K for Saberhagen, the dead money lugged around only goes up a small percentage to $66,093,581.

The team could easily add more to this pool as the season progresses. Fortunately, for those who hate to see players paid by the Mets only to suit up elsewhere, any sort of move like this would only be temporary. A player like Michael Tonkin earning only $1 million is expendable both to the roster and payroll if he struggles on the mound. There’s also the possibility of the Mets being trade deadline sellers and continuing to eat all or most of the contracts to receive a larger return.

Choices like moving on from Bickford and it costing the team $217K are a frequent occurrence. I know it’s milk money for Steve Cohen’s nieces and nephews. Yet my inner Dave Ramsey listener refuses to believe they should have simply non-tendered him back in November to save the cash that won't even cover the cost of a league minimum player.