It’s always fun debating all the possible ways the Mets can bring a superstar to Queens at this time of the year. Nobody wants to be a seller, that usually means your season is “over and out” and relevancy is still a year or more away.
As we close in on our sixth consecutive losing season, it’s become very clear that even the biggest proponents of a rebuild four years ago are getting tired of the waiting. Heck, even David Wright is telling reporters that now is the time to start adding those significant pieces, venturing in terrain he’s never navigated before. But of course the captain realizes that he isn’t getting any younger.
And while some of us discuss the potential to land a Troy Tulowitzki or a Carlos Gonzalez, there is a stark reality that clouds everything – the still stifling financial situation that has encumbered this team for over half a decade now.
Oh how the Mets want you all to believe they are now on easy street, but even in a year when they promised to increase payroll, there they sit almost $10 million lower than 2013 levels, $20 million lower than 2012 levels, and an astounding $70 million lower than 2011 levels.
The Mets are led by a GM who is most famous for how little he says about anyone or anything. However, it’s how he crafts his jokes that really tell the story, always managing to use humor to convey the sad reality that payroll is not going to alter much over the next few years.
Alderson made his big “superstar plays” by signing David Wright to a deal that takes him into retirement, and then giving Curtis Granderson a cushy second generation contract worth four years and $60 million. Because Grandy’s deal was discounted in year one, his salary jumps from $13MM in 2014 to $16 million in 2015. That’s $36 million for two players and about $45 million left to fill the other 23 spots on the roster.
While someone in the organization (is that you Jeff?) keeps leaking things like the Mets are targeting Tulo and Gonzalez, Alderson used his dry wit to put that rumor neatly to bed.
When he was asked if the Mets even had the financial wherewithal to add one of those players he responded as such:
“We’ve got a 20 and 15,’’ he said referring to David Wright and Curtis Granderson. “So we go with a 20, 20, 15 and what? 22 dwarfs?’’
Yes, Mr. Alderson, point taken.
Sandy brings us back to “payroll concentration” a phrase he coined last offseason when he attempted to convey that two $15 million per year players is as good as it gets in Flushing.
It’s great to dream, and we’ll keep dreaming on MMO, but it’s important to understand that no matter what you think the financial landscape hasn’t changed much at all over the last few years.
Do you find it all befuddling that the only players in the “sell” conversation are those who are making some significant change like Daniel Murphy, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese? In 2-3 years it might be Matt Harvey, Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler needed to be moved because they’re getting “too pricey” another term made famous by our esteemed GM last offseason when he had this to say after arriving to dinner late at the Winter Meetings.
“Sorry I’m late” he told reporters. “I was upstairs stacking our money. But don’t get too excited. They were all fives.”
When asked how high the pile was, he said: “Not as high as some people expect.”
It must be tough for a man with such integrity and honor to keep up a variety of pretenses for his bosses, but don’t feel too bad for Sandy, he’s well paid and up to the task.
So while you hear me saying things about how optimistic I am about our future (and I am), and how I gloat over a farm system that both our current and former GM helped to build (and yes they both did), I’m still grounded in the reality that this team is tapped out, flat broke, and running on fumes.
Our organization still lacks any reasonable financial flexibility – especially for a franchise in this market. They can only add quality players after first jettisoning established (and well paid) players off the current roster to clear up room for them.
The fact is that nothing has changed much… We’ll still continue to trade quality players for prospects, hope that it’s enough to take us to the next level, but understanding that once any of these players become too good and too costly, they’ll simply get turned over for a newer crop of prospects who are 2-3 years away. The Mets are stuck in the Spin-Cycle and that may not change until the Wilpons are finally gone and as long as they take their crippling debt and decades of bad decision-making with them.