Now that the R.A. Dickey and David Wright questions have been answered, the Mets can move on to other business. But before we can get into specifics, let’s go back and look at one of the most fundamental questions there is as far as team building: What’s the available payroll for 2013?
After last year, when fans were lied to repeatedly over what the actual payroll was going to be, we know better than to trust any numbers thrown out now by management. Unfortunately, we now have to take that mistrust to another level.
Accounting-type tricks that were once used to hide revenue are now being used to distort payroll. The most obvious of these are 2014 options being accounted for in 2013 payroll. Here is a Google document from the good folks over at Real Dirty Mets Blog. Go visit their site to see this in a much more user-friendly format
|2013 Projected Mets Roster & Team Payroll RealDirtyMets.com|
|Roster #||Pos||B/T||Player||2012 Salary Projection|
|1||SP||L/L||Johan Santana + buyout||$26,000,000|
|LF||R/R||# Jason Bay + buyout||$6,000,000|
|6||2B||L/R||** Daniel Murphy||$3,000,000|
|7||1B||L/L||** Ike Davis||$2,800,000|
|8||RP||R/R||** Bobby Parnell||$1,500,000|
|9||IF||R/R||* Justin Turner||$490,000|
|10||SS||R/R||* Ruben Tejada||$490,000|
|11||RF||L/R||* Lucas Duda||$490,000|
|12||SP||R/R||* Dillon Gee||$490,000|
|13||SP||R/R||* Matt Harvey||$490,000|
|14||RP||L/L||* Josh Edgin||$490,000|
|15||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|Adjusted New Total||$66,230,000|
|16||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|17||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|18||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|19||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|20||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|21||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|22||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|23||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|24||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|25||—||—||Player to be determined||$490,000|
|Final Overall Total||$71,130,000|
|Estimated 2013 Total Budget||$100,000,000|
|Remaining Balance Of 2013 Budget||$28,870,000|
|** Based on Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections|
|* Estimate of 2013 salary based on premise of player getting min salary according to cba|
|# Is not part of the active roster|
Wright’s salary this year is $11 million with $3 million deferred. It would not surprise me if when calculating payroll for public consumption if the Mets included the full $11 million under the 2013 payroll.
Ideally, a New York team should have a payroll among the league leaders. The reality is that the Wilpons have a ton of debt and the payroll will not go up in the immediate future. It’s much, much more likely to go down from last year’s $95 million number than anything else.
It is my belief that most fans will generally accept this if the Mets would just come out and say it. Sure – there will be loud grumbling about it. But you know what? There’s already loud grumbling about it so it’s not like there would be some huge public perception change.
A lot of people are still living in the instant gratification, spend money on free agents now mode. They see Michael Bourn out there and want the club to invest big dollars to make him the club’s center fielder. Never mind the fact that he has no power, bats lefty and has an unimpressive .339 lifetime OBP – just sign him already!
Now, that’s not necessarily fair to Bourn, who is an elite defensive player and one whose speed really is an asset to a club. But with Scott Boras as his agent, will Bourn really sign for anything less than Angel Pagan’s four-year/$40 million deal?
The point is that if the Mets would be honest about their payroll restrictions, not many people would be campaigning to sign Bourn. The chart above lists the Mets with almost $29 million in discretionary money available this offseason. If that were true, chasing Bourn would make sense. Even if he cost $15 million, there would still be plenty of money left over to re-sign Scott Hairston and add a couple of middle relievers.
But what if the payroll this year is going to be $85 million, including Wright’s deferral? Then there is only $10 million in discretionary money available to Sandy Alderson. Bourn is off the table and you can see why there’s such great hesitation to re-up with Hairston, despite everyone agreeing that he’s an excellent platoon player, if not a full-time OF.
No doubt many reading this are throwing their hands up in the air and mentally imploring the Wilpons to just sell already. From our point of view, that makes sense. But we have to look at it from the owners’ point of view. They have an asset that has the ability to be a tremendous money maker but right now there are severe short-term liquidity problems.
When you’re playing Monopoly, you don’t trade in your hotels and mortgage/sell Boardwalk and Park Place until every other option has been exhausted. And in the Mets’ case, they still have Electric Company, Indiana Avenue and B&O Railroad to leverage first. And we shouldn’t blame them for doing that.
In the short-term, the Mets need to continue to cut payroll and convince the banks to refinance some of the loans that are coming due in the next two-to-three years. It’s tough sledding for the Wilpons currently. But now that the Madoff case has been resolved favorably, one can see a pathway for them to retain the club.
That’s always been their goal – to keep the Mets under Wilpon family control. Would any of us really act differently if the situation was reversed? If you were Jeff Wilpon, would you urge your dad to sell so the family wouldn’t be dragged through the mud for the next three years? Or would you tell him to hang on, knowing full well seven years from now this asset will make you tens of millions of dollars on an annual basis?
So, understand the restructurings which happened with contracts were not done to help improve the 2013 payroll but rather to aid in the Wilpons’ immediate liquidity. And don’t expect big free agent acquisitions next year, either. These restructurings are eating into the money that was supposed to be saved with Bay and Santana no longer on the payroll.