Examining the dollars and cents for the Mets and their 2016 payroll
There is a very short lull following the conclusion of the World Series, as Mets front office personnel will head to South Florida to convene for the Industry Meetings with their fellow executives from around the league.
It is there many teams hope to plant the seeds for future free agent signings and trades with other clubs as teams begin to outline their plans for the 2016 season and beyond. But that time is also used to discuss issues and politics in the game and begin to address needs and improvements going forward.
The Mets, fresh off their loss in the World Series, must now put those emotions aside and kindle their own hot stove. They have to consider either retaining some or all of their free agents, or looking elsewhere for replacements as they will unquestionably leave deep voids that must be addressed if they intend to be contenders for a championship again in 2016.
Part of that, of course, is examining their current roster, it’s needs, and both short and long-term financial obligations to their players.
Here’s a look at their current free agents and a rough projection at their 2016 payroll obligations…
There are nine free agents who were officially removed from the roster on Monday, ten if Dillon Gee is included in that group, 11 if Jenrry Mejia is non-tendered this winter and made a free agent.
Not including the prorated salaries the Mets paid to Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Tyler Clippard, the Mets will clear approximately $33 million in payroll from 2015 with these free agents.
The Mets paid Cespedes approximately $3.1 million, Clippard $2.6 million, Uribe $2 million, Johnson $475,000.
Of course, they can expect to give a substantial raise to Matt Harvey in his first year of arbitration eligibility, presumably in the $4-6 million range. They will likely give Ruben Tejada a significant raise from his $1.9 million salary, Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin, Carlos Torres, Anthony Recker, Addison Reed and Lucas Duda are all due raises through arbitration as well.
The Mets seem likely to non-tender Reed due to his $4.8 million salary in 2015, although they could, and probably should consider attempting to sign him to a lesser deal this winter.
But the Mets can expect to dole out about $20-25 million in monies through arbitration in 2016. Assuming Reed is retained for $3 million, they are obligated for about $23-28 million.
In addition, the Mets are already obligated to $60 million for players under contract in 2016. That includes Curtis Granderson’s $16 million salary and David Wright’s $20 million. Jon Niese will enjoy a $2 million raise from his $7 million salary at $9 million, Juan Lagares will receive a $2 million raise from his $528,000 salary in 2015, and Michael Cuddyer will receive a $4 million raise in 2015 from $8.5 million to $12.5 million.
Including Reed at $3 million, that has the Mets payroll at about $83-88 million already in 2016, which doesn’t include monies owed to players not eligible for arbitration, which will be anywhere between $6-7 million.
On the high end, that’s $95 million already committed to the 2016 payroll, again excluding their own free agents.
It’s still unclear how much – if at all – the Mets will escalate their payroll, which was $101 million on Opening Day, according to Cot’s Contracts.
Assuming the Mets can go to $110 million in 2016, the Mets would have about $15 million in payroll space for new acquisitions. If they can go to $120 million, they would have about $25 million.
Again, these are only assumptions. Assuming all of their free agents are gone in 2016, they have to find replacement production and improve their contact rate and defense in the outfield and second base. They also must re-shape their bullpen to create a lockdown formula again, something they had late in the season but struggled to keep together in the World Series.
Obviously, the more payroll flexibility the Mets have, the easier it will be to create these solutions.
But any team that gets as deep into the postseason as the Mets and Royals enjoy jolts in revenue, so the Mets should have an opportunity in the trade and free agent markets to address their needs and tweak this roster for another championship run in 2016.