Happy Sunday, everyone. On the eve of the Winter Meetings I wanted to put together a primer of sorts that includes our 2018 payroll commitments, arbitration projections, and a review of the team’s top questions and concerns.
Guaranteed Contracts – $72.0 Million
Yoenis Cespedes – $29,000,000
David Wright – $20,000,000
Asdrubal Cabrera – $8,250,000
Jerry Blevins – $7,000,000
Juan Lagares – $6,500,000
Arbitration Eligible – $43.3 Million
Jeurys Familia – ($7.425M) $8,675,000
AJ Ramos – ($6.55M) $8,500,000
Matt Harvey – ($5.125M) $5,500,000
Jacob deGrom – ($4.05M) $8,250,000
Wilmer Flores – ($2.2M) $4,200,000
Travis d’Arnaud – ($1.875M) $2,450,000
Noah Syndergaard – ($605K) $2,600,000
Hansel Robles – ($553K) $650,000
Zack Wheeler – ($800K) $2,500,000
The number in parenthesis represents each player’s 2017 salary while the second number is the projected salary for 2018. In 2017 these nine players earned $29.2 million dollars. That number is projected to climb to $43.3 million.
The most significant increases will go to Jacob deGrom who will see a $4.2 million raise next season. Wilmer Flores, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler will all see roughly $2.0 million dollar increases. AJ Ramos will cost the Mets $8.5 million in 2018, that’s a hefty chunk of money for the righty setup man.
Current Projected Payroll: $122,300,000
So if you were to total the figures from the guaranteed contracts, team options and projected arbitration amounts, we get a total of $115,300,000 in approximate payroll for 14 players.
Allowing for the major league minimum of $610,000 for the remaining 11 roster spots adds another $6,710,000 to our total, giving us a current projected payroll of $122 million dollars.
Four Burning Questions
What are the Mets’ biggest needs this offseason?
For a team that was in the World Series two years ago and won a wild card a year later, the Mets have an incredible shopping list ahead of them and many significant questions abound. Outwardly, Sandy Alderson says it’s postseason or bust in 2018, but I’ve heard the words “rebuild” and “retooling” a heck of a lot over the last six weeks.
If the front office isn’t blowing smoke about contending next season, a quality arm for the bullpen is at the top of the list, and the available options are already flying off the shelves. Even southpaw Jerry Blevins confided to us that adding an Addison Reed type reliever is an “absolute must.” The truth is they could use two arms in that backend, not just one.
Mickey Callaway was supposed to be giving us the inside track on Bryan Shaw. But despite being offered a multi-year deal from the Mets three weeks ago, Shaw is holding out for something better and says he’ll just wait things out.
The Mets also need a second baseman, a reliable number three or four starting pitcher, a center fielder or at least half of one to platoon with Juan Lagares, and if that’s not enough, shrinking confidence in Dominic Smith has them looking at first base options like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, although I’m not buying it unless one of them will expect to get paid in Monopoly money.
Can the Mets make a trade to fill any of their big needs?
Of course they could, but it won’t be easy. The Mets are already lacking in pitching depth and I’m hearing that they are even reluctant to trade Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo unless they get an offer they can’t refuse.
Another stumbling block to a trade is that our farm system is very thin at the upper levels, especially after the promotions of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith. And because these are the Mets, money is always the biggest issue. That’s why they didn’t even sniff Dee Gordon despite the need at second base and why Ian Kinsler is still a long shot at best.
Who have the Mets been connected to so far?
Everybody. Nobody. It depends on what you’re willing to believe. I already mentioned Shaw, Martinez and Hosmer, but they have also reportedly expressed interest in Lorenzo Cain, Jay Bruce, Mike Minor before he signed with the Rangers, Dee Gordon was also another one.
Jason Kipnis has come up a few times but not as often as Ian Kinsler. All of a sudden the Mets have renewed interest in Starlin Castro who is now with the Marlins by way of Giancarlo Stanton. A few years ago the Mets scoffed at a potential Zack Wheeler for Castro swap, but now he’ll cost a lot more than that. And ironically, all of a sudden they are willing to take poor defense at second base for a player who is half of what Daniel Murphy is offensively. Anybody have a good bourbon?
Does Adam Lind get you excited? He’s also been mentioned a lot as has Logan Morrison. Look, here’s a brutally cold dose of honesty… Right now the Mets are a team in search of a plan. With just $35 million to spend – if that – some of those bigger names they’ve been connected to are more fantasy than reality. We knew where this was going after all those salary dumps over the Summer. And that was further evidenced when Sandy admitted most of those millions they shed would not be reinvested. Do I really have to paint this picture for you?
Where are the Mets going?
If you’ve been reading my posts on this since the season ended, I’m contending that the Mets are looking at 2019 as far as postseason aspirations go. They’ve completely transplanted their field management team, their pitching and hitting coaches, the entire training staff and conditioning team, and it’s gonna take some time for all that to gel.
On top of that, there’s still the fact that many of their core players are still injury concerns and that includes their top two hitters Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto. Plus four of their five starters in their once ballyhooed rotation are coming off significant injuries… Again.
This is a team that lacks speed, ranking last in the NL in stolen bases. The defense was bottom 10 and actually got worse with Dominic Smith at first base. And now they plan on installing Asdrubal Cabrera at third base which is almost as bad as you can get defensively. There’s a lot to be concerned about with the whole makeup of this team, and $30 million dollars isn’t enough for a face-lift.
I believe that by the end of the 2018 season, the Mets front office can right this ship and put the team back on course for a string of postseasons. However it’s not something they can rush and cram into a three month offseason with little to spend.
The Mets will have a whole year to figure out if Travis d’Arnaud is a keeper. They’ll have a year to get all their pitchers healthy and hopefully back to their previous form. Matt Harvey won’t be back and one of Steven Matz or Zack Wheeler will have to emerge and give the rotation 30 quality starts. In the meantime, Smith and Rosario will get a full year to show what exactly they have to offer. Additionally, they will need a few of their young arms to emerge in the bullpen especially with Familia and Ramos free agents at the end of the season.
Look to 2019.