The Mets’ 2013 effective payroll and how it relates to 2014

Two years ago, I wrote a piece about the Mets’ 2011-12 offseason. If you’ve mentally blocked that offseason, it’s the one that saw an historic nominal payroll reduction, with something in the neighborhood of $50M net coming off the books. The goal of that piece was to put that immense payroll decrease into perspective by examining the actual on-field impact of the dollars that the Mets were opting not to replace. So here we are, at the beginning of another offseason in which a ton of payroll, much of it dead weight, has come off the books. Seems as good a time as any to try once again to do some payroll analysis and add a little context to the situation.

Let’s review the process. I pulled salary data from Cot’s Contracts (which is a fantastic, free resource that you should all have bookmarked) for every player on the Mets’ 2013 payroll. This includes Jason Bay. It does not include Carlos Beltran or Bobby Bonilla or Bret Saberhagen, because deferred money is a different animal. It does, however, include the buyouts paid to Bay and Johan Santana. Ordinarily I would count those buyouts in the year that the salary they relate to would have been earned (in this case, 2014). But Mets GM Sandy Alderson was crystal clear when he spoke about these buyouts last offseason, specifically that they would count against 2013 payroll. So be it.

I used transactions data from MLB’s website to keep track of which players were on the active roster for each of the 183 days of the 2013 season. Then I calculated total ML payroll and what I call the effective payroll (which is the payroll of the active roster only). I refer to the difference between these numbers, the amount spent on players ineligible to help the team win on a given day, as the deficit.

Biggest Contributors to 2013 Average Payroll:
1. Johan Santana – $31.0M ($25.5M in salary plus $5.5M 2014 buyout)
2. Jason Bay – $21.1M ($16.0M in salary plus $3.0M in 2014 buyout plus $2.1M in prorated signing bonus)
3. David Wright – $11.0M
4. Frank Francisco – $6.5M
5. John Buck – $5.1M (after savings from the August trade to Pittsburgh)
6. Shaun Marcum – $4.0M

Biggest Contributors to 2013 Effective Payroll:
1. David Wright – $8.1M
2. John Buck – $4.8M
3. Daniel Murphy – $2.9M
4. Ike Davis – $2.4M
5. Jon Niese – $2.2M
6. Shaun Marcum – $1.6M

Biggest Contributors to 2013 Deficit:
1. Johan Santana – $31.0M
2. Jason Bay – $21.2M
3. Frank Francisco – $5.7M
4. David Wright – $2.9M
5. Shaun Marcum – $2.4M
6. Jon Niese – $0.9M

Using this process, the Mets spent $103,673,341 on Major League salaries in 2013. Of that total, the effective payroll amounted to just $35,646,953, implying a deficit of $68,026,388. For every dollar the Mets spent on players on the field in 2013, they spent nearly two dollars on players not on the field.

Graphing these results, it’s easy to identify the major salary-related events, such as David Wright (and his ten-plus-percent-of-the-team’s-payroll salary) hitting the DL, the John Buck-Marlon Byrd trade, and then Wright’s return. It’s also easy to see the money on the field (the happy light blue) relative to the money off it (the sad dark blue).

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The Mets’ payroll situation since the Bernie Madoff disaster has been an embarrassing mess that has cost the team half a decade and counting. But I’m an optimist. I can’t help it. So when I look at the Mets’ payroll, what I choose to focus on is that five of their six highest paid players in 2013 came off the books, and the one that remains is their lone bona fide star. The Mets’ total ML payroll dropped nearly $20M this offseason, but their effective payroll on Opening Day 2014 will be more than double what it was at the close of the 2013 season. What that means for 2014’s record remains to be seen, but allocating payroll more efficiently is certainly another step in the right direction.

If you’re interested in Major League transactions, rules, and procedures, or if you just want to know which Mets have options left and who’s eligible for next winter’s Rule 5 draft, be sure to check out http://tpgmets.blogspot.com, and follow me on Twitter @tpgMets.

4 comments for “The Mets’ 2013 effective payroll and how it relates to 2014

  1. Patrick Albanesius
    March 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Great look at where the money actually goes. The Rays have proven year after year that you don’t need huge money to build a strong team. While the Mets (in theory) should be able to go out and buy some parts to be competitive moving forward, I’d much rather keep to the formula of getting value for the dollar. If that means we pass on guys like Peralta, Drew, Cano, so be it.

    • March 28, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Thanks. I agree about generally avoiding the huge money second generation contracts. My hope, though, is that they can run their payroll at least to $110-120M in the near future. At that level, with a smart front office, the payroll would feel a whole lot more open.

      • Metsense
        March 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

        Nice job Chris and always great to get an article from you.
        I think all Met fans agree that it isn’t how much is spent but how it is spent. I also think that your payroll has to reflect your needs in order to be a competitive team. Currently the Mets are not a competitive team but there have been a few short term signings in MLB that were values. Those type of signings can make you competitive for that year, increase your revenue and bottom linem, and set a financial foundation for the next year.I actually thought Sandy was doing this with the Chris Young and Bartola Colon signing but he abruptly stopped. (Granderson is more of a long term investment). The Mets still have needs but chose not to invest furthur in the team with some more short term signings.
        Your payroll estimate of 110-120 would have allowed the Mets to be competitive this year.

  2. Sean Flattery
    March 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I’m pretty sure the top free agent non-pitchers next year will be: Hanley Ramirez, Billy Butler, Pablo Sandoval, and Colby Rasmus. Other than that slim pickins.

    In my opinion, the Mets are doing it the right way. The Yankees spent all the money for players that are no longer in their prime and will probably finish in 3rd place. I’m hoping the next big contracts the Mets hand out are for Harvey,Wheeler, and Murphy(to a lesser extent)

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