Every Mets fan loves to complain about the team’s payroll. It’s almost as big of a deal as waiting two hours for Shake Shack at Citi Field.
The Mets rightfully have a bad reputation for not spending like a big-market team. But to be fair to the Mets, they have increased their payroll in each of the last two seasons, from $128 million in 2015 to about $154 million this season. New York’s $154 million payroll was the 14th-highest in the majors this year, but when you’re out-spent by teams that play in Kansas City and Seattle, fans are right to be disappointed.
Next season, there figures to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the payroll. The Mets have a lot of money coming off ]the books this year, so they don’t actually have too much tied up to anyone. They only have about $60 million in guarantees next year, including the deferred salaries of Bobby Bonilla, Carlos Beltran and Bret Saberhagen. $49 million of those guarantees come from the contracts of Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright, the only two big-money players left on the Mets.
The team also have two mid-size team options for next year in Asdrubal Cabrera and Jerry Blevins. Cabrera has an $8.5 million option for next year, and Blevins has a $7 million option. The Mets will almost certainly pick up Blevins’ option for next season, but Cabrera’s future with the team is less clear. Let’s assume the Mets pick up Blevins’ option. We’re now up to $67 million.
Then comes arbitration. It’s hard to project how much arbitration salaries will actually rise, but let’s assume the following numbers as guesstimates. Again, it’s important to remember these numbers are purely speculative guesses from a non-arbitration expert:
- $8 million for Jeurys Familia (made $7.4 million this season.)
- $5.5 for Matt Harvey (made $5.1 million this season.)
- $8 million for AJ Ramos (made $6.6 million this season.)
- $4 million for Wilmer Flores (made $2.2 million this season.)
- $7 million for Jacob deGrom (made $4 million this season.)
- $2.5 for Travis d’Arnaud (made $1.8 million this season.)
That’s $35 million in arbitration money. Give or take $5 million for any non-tender or exponential pay raises. Now we’re up to somewhere between $97 and $107 million on the books. Let’s also assume about $12 million for pre-arbitration players, who usually make middle-six-figure salaries. That’s a $109 to $119 million payroll for 2018, before any trades and free-agent signings.
Assuming the Mets operate under a $154 million payroll again next year the team will have between $35 and $45 million to spend on free agency this offseason. If stinginess is not an object, however, they might want to spend more, given needs at catcher, second base, third base, center field, the rotation and bullpen.
Sandy Alderson and crew have previously said they will tie the payroll to attendance numbers. The Mets are tenth in the majors in attendance, averaging about 32,000 fans per game, although that will probably go down with the meaningless September games at Citi Field. The team will still, however, only be a tad lower than the attendance they put up in 2015, when they made the World Series, and far higher than they were from 2011-2014, when they never averaged more than 29,000 fans per game. So these so-so attendance numbers will hopefully bode well for the payroll.