What exactly is the Mets’ budget for 2018?

Following a flurry of trades and signings at the annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL, the Mets walked away with a new middle reliever. Fans are understandably disappointed (okay, furious in some cases) as the team clearly has some glaring holes that need to be filled following the mid-late season salary dump of six veteran players. Chief among them are a leadoff hitter and a #5 hitter to protect Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup. Ideally those two also occupy center or right field, second or third base, and really super ideally, one of them can also play first base if needed. This could be achieved by a smart front office if they a) had a stockpile of minor league prospects (we don’t) or b) had a significant amount of money to spend (we may not).

The Mets began the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which ranked them 11th or 12th among all major league teams (neck and neck with the Mariners depending on where you look). That would be fine if we were a mid-market team from, say, Seattle, but this is the Big Apple, home to Citi Field and its $30 parking passes and $11 cans of Budweiser, not to mention our cross-town rival Yankees who spend money like the Real Housewives of New Jersey on a European vacation. As last season was winding down, talk turned to preparing for 2018 and GM Sandy Alderson tried to justify his salary dumps of valuable veteran players for a station wagon full of marginal minor league relievers, he led the media and fans to believe he’d have in the neighborhood of $30 million to spend this off-season. Thus far we’ve spent $7 million, while kicking the tires on a number of hitters ranging from washed up hasbeens to 30-somethings with something left to give. Do we really have $23 million left to spend or is that a miscalculation? How did we all arrive at that number?

Let’s do the math.

As it stands this team has exactly two expensive players under contract for this season – Cespedes ($29 million) and David Wright ($20 milllion), plus another three under contract – Asdrubal Cabrera ( $8.25 million), Jerry Blevins ($7 million) and  Juan Lagares ($6.5 million). That totals $60.75 million. Tack on projected arbitration salaries for Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, Wilmer Flores, Jacob deGrom, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard,  Zack Wheeler and Hansel Robles totaling $42.4 million (based on Cot’s formula which is often a little high) and another 10 players on rookie contracts totaling about $6 million and that brings us to about $119 million, or $36 million below where we started last year. Tack on $5 million for those ridiculous deferred salaries for Bobby Bonilla, Brett Saberhagen and Carlos Beltran, and while we’re at it, let’s subtract $15 of the $20 million owed to Wright as insurance will likely pick up that tab. That brings us to $109 million. Now add $7 million back for our big Winter Meetings acquisition, Anthony Swarzak, and we stand somewhere in the neighborhood of $116 million, $39 million below where we started last season.

$39 million should be enough to sign two impact players from among the second tier of remaining free agent fits – Jay Bruce, Lorenzo Cain, Todd Frazier, et al. with a few bucks left for another useful arm. So there are two plausible explanations for Alderson poking around in the clearance section – A) the Mets’ ownership is looking to cut payroll and move from the middle of the pack to the bottom third with no real hope or plan to be competitive this season or B) it’s a tactic to wait out the market and Alderson will pleasantly surprise Mets fans with shrewd moves to make us competitive again. Given that this window of arbitration talent will soon be closing as will this period of sharing a division with three rebuilding teams, let’s cross our fingers that the answer is B.

44 comments for “What exactly is the Mets’ budget for 2018?

  1. December 15, 2017 at 9:15 am

    You could always back load the contracts too Matt. No excuses here. We’re back to dumpster reclamation looking for value where there isn’t. The 2019 payroll sits at 53 million with only 3 players signed as of today (per Cot’s). You could actually sign all three with a little creativity.

  2. MattyMets
    December 15, 2017 at 9:39 am

    My biggest issue is the short term thinking. Why are we looking to patch holes with veterans with one year left? It’s fine to do that here and there like we are with Cabrera, but so that in several spots (Kinsler, Lind) and we’re just kicking the can down the road assuring that we’ll have more holes to fill next off-season. Not to mention, as BK so eloquently put it, we’re effectively rolling the dice on mediocrity.

    • Jimmy P
      December 15, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Kicking the can down the road is exactly Sandy’s strategy. And it has been the strategy for some time. Cobble a team together and hope it works — and, you know, some years it might.

      It’s a year by year thing.

      Remember all those lies about “sustained success”? What a joke. They have zero interest in committing to building that kind of organization.

      But again, there’s a lot of talent on this team and they have a real shot at WC2 if they do a few basic things this offseason. My guess is that they will . . . kick the can down the road . . . and see how it works out.

  3. December 15, 2017 at 9:49 am

    God help us if the Mets sign Lind. Your 3 free agents you listed above would more than adequately fill the needs of this off season. And at the very least position the team for a WC. I’d take it in a heart beat.

  4. TexasGusCC
    December 15, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Matt, stop talking logical. The Mets never bring up the insurance money; nor do they spend to win. They reach into their pockets begrudgingly and as a last case scenario.

    However, for the sake of the article… I’ve noticed that useful pitchers are getting around $10-12 per year, usually more. I don’t want Bruce and Cain will be about $18-20. Frazier would be about $12 or so. It’s doubtful that it would all fit.

    • December 16, 2017 at 12:11 am

      Gus you can back load Bruce and Cain I would look to trade Lagares and Harvey saving about 14 million in payroll and you could then afford Frazier as well.

  5. MattyMets
    December 15, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Here’s one way to spend $39 million:
    Cain $17mm
    Frazier $14mm
    Reyes $2mm
    Dickey $6mm

    • TexasGusCC
      December 15, 2017 at 11:13 am

      No Dickey, forget it. You said a useful pitcher, i.e.: a #3/4 starter. They don’t need a #5, there are many options there including Montero for a #5.

  6. Eraff
    December 15, 2017 at 11:11 am

    The reality of their “Plan” was:
    -They would have committed big bucks to several SP’s and locked them up (by now)
    -They would Rotate to lower cost Positional Players who they Drafted

    The SP injuries explain the lack of forward investment there…as well as the fact that their quality and depth is not so simply matter of fact

    Their success with Young Positional players is spotty… Conforto is the Lone example of a controlled young anchor…and he’s hurt. Rosario is a bight hope, but still an unknown. The Catching situation is sort of under control—I know I’ll get argument on that, but check the rest of MLB…it’s grimmer than you think. Otherwise, the span from Lagares and Wilmer to Nimmo/Cheech/Smith is more defined by questions than answers. You’d logically question whether some of them have an MLB role, much less a role as a team anchor.

    I’ll repeat my view that they can only patch now….and wait to see if any part of this team is worth investing in…most especially the Pitching. The Big Decisions on this team should be defined after the first 50-100 or so games of the season. That’s a Purgatory Position, but it’s sadly true. I think it’s the right approach—other than wishing for a budget that befits a Large Market.

    • December 15, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Agreed on your last graph, even if I think purgatory is a bit of an overstatement. Because of the one-two stomach punch of payroll limitations and injuries they patch for Opening Day and then reevaluate.

      I’m less interested in winning the offseason PR battle than actual games come April.

      • Eraff
        December 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm

        Nobody ever Ticker Taped after Hot Stove

  7. Eraff
    December 15, 2017 at 11:18 am

    BTW…a critique of this Management, especially given their stated devotion to Market and Baseball analytics……
    Late to the dance:
    -Valuation of the role of Bullpen Pitchers
    -Valuation and recognition of Positional Flexibility and talent

    They have also planned heavily on the idea of a massive starting rotation–“5 Cy Young Award Winners”…… projecting All as 7-9 inning studs. That may have something to do with their Bullpen and Positional Planning.

    I do question whether they have the Mental Baseball Talent to Compete…. do they Understand the Game and Players and Prospects well????…. I question that.

    • Jimmy P
      December 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Feels like game has utterly passed Sandy by.

      It’s like bringing Grandma out to a restaurant for the holidays. “Oh, the prices!”

      This is his last cash in before baseball’s oldest GM rides off into the sunset. Not an innovator.

      • Chris F
        December 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm

        The thing is Jimmy, this has been his routine. Everyone is overpriced. On top of flippant passive-aggressive comments (“what outfield?” and “no need to go after stanton because we have Nimmo”), he regales the world with obfuscated backwards windtalker double speak. Clearly he enjoys this routine, no matter how infuriating it is to fans, players, and most certainly fellow GMs. He parades around like the big man on campus, but in fact he is the most irrelevant GM in MLB. It matches the most irrelevant ownership in the MLB to a T.

        • TexasGusCC
          December 15, 2017 at 8:43 pm

          Great comment Chris. Reality bites, us.

        • Jim OMalley
          December 15, 2017 at 9:02 pm

          Thanks for stating this so clearly. Sandy is the most irrelavent GM on a team with the worst owner (and son). There is a stomach-punching numbness to the season since Sranton was dealt to the Yankees for beeswax.

          • December 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

            James Dolan might disagree with you Jim

        • TexasGusCC
          December 16, 2017 at 12:59 am

          Chris, a month ago Fangraphs ranked the Mets front office 28th in MLB. Seems like they aren’t fooling as many people as they may be thinking.

          • December 16, 2017 at 8:31 am

            It’s important to note that it wasn’t FanGraphs rating the FO — it was fans of the team.

            • TexasGusCC
              December 16, 2017 at 10:31 am

              Thank you for that. I didn’t bother reading the article as I kind of had them about 26th, not quite as bad, LOL.

  8. December 15, 2017 at 11:33 am

    The issue I have with this piece is the assumption that the 2018 Opening Day payroll is going to match the 2017 OD one.

    Alderson is already on record as saying that he convinced the owners to exceed the original OD budget in 2017 and nothing that he’s said or done since selling off players last July/August has indicated that he plans to do so again here for 2018.

    • Chris F
      December 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Im expecting 140M$ max

      By the way, enjoyed the podcast Brian!!!

      “rebuilding for it”….the eternal beige of purgatory.

    • MattyMets
      December 15, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Brian, if $155 million was the 11th or 12th highest team payroll at the beginning of 2017, what will, say $140 million be at the beginning of 2018? A New York franchise should not be in the bottom third.

      For the sake of argument, even $140mm gives them another $24 mm to spend. That’s enough where we shouldn’t be looking at the likes of Adam Lind, Mike Napoli, et al. I’m tired of these Cuddyer type signings. It may work for the New England Patriots to bring on guys at the end of their careers running on fumes who feel rejuvenated for one last year on a winning team, but it never seems to work for the Mets. It’s one thing to bring on a Jose Uribe/Kelly Johnson in August to solidify the bench, but it’s another to pin your hopes on these types of players at the start of the year. I’d rather give at bats to a Cecchini or Nimmo and see what they can do rather than block their potential progress with late stage Bobby Abreu.

      In the post-steroid era, very few positional players are still performing at high levels past age 34. Most who’ve hung around have become DHs (Pujols, Cruz, Beltran, Holliday, Martinez, Bautista) part-time players (Utley, Ichiro) backup catchers (Ruiz, Ellis) or constantly on the DL (Werth). Beltre and Granderson are among the very few exceptions.

    • TJ
      December 15, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      Brian,
      Bingo. I appreciate Matt’s efforts on this article, but doing math exercises over “potential” or “theoretical” budgets is a total waste of time. I am one of the fuming Met fans, and it is based n what we know for sure.

      1. Alderson had to beg/push for an opening day payroll last year of $155mil. That ranked anywhere from 12-14th in the league. For a team coming off a World Series and playoff appearance, in the #1 market, and a “now” team, that is exceedingly low peak.
      2. As you say, while remaining coy and demonstrating terrible body language, Alderson has stated the 2018 budget will be below 2017 opening payroll. Really, off one bad injury riddled season, where they gutted the team and drove that payroll expense down to around $130 million. Absolutely pathetic
      3. The GM stated the bullpen was a clear priority. The assistant GM made public comments that the Mets would be free agent players in the FA market and were planning to win in 2018. When it came time to back it up, well, hemming and hawing and a journeyman middle reliever.

      Ok, the off season is far from over. However, these guys (ownership and management) are pretenders and disingenuous until proven otherwise, based on their own words and actions/inactions.

    • Jimmy P
      December 16, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      I’d like to ask Sandy:

      If you pushed the owners to spend $155* on Opening Day last season, why aren’t you advocating for that again this year?

      (Actual spending was easily $20 million less than that number if we include a conservative number on Wright.)

  9. Mike Walczak
    December 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    This is a good article. There were/are reasonable players to go after. I would not go after Cain or Frazier. Not worth the money. How about Eduardo Nunez. Kipnis may be ok, but he goes up and down. My feeling is he is another Juan Samuel – yeah remember him.

    Piscotty would have been good, but he wanted to be on the west coast with an ailing mother.

    Cesar Hernandez would be good too, but price is high.

    Please, no Lind or Bruce or Reyes. We need youth.

    I know exactly who they will sign for the bullpen. Good Old Oliver Perez.

    Disappointing but I admit I am very impatient.

  10. Metsense
    December 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    What exactly is the Mets’ budget for 2018? Answer: not enough

    The Mets have too many holes to fill and ownership is unwilling to pay quality players to fill them. There are three glaring offensive holes, (first base, second base, outfield) and $39 M will not be enough money. Instead, they will cobble together a team and hope it is competitive enough to compete for the second play off spot. It is up to the ownership to step up to bat but the Wilpon’s will handle it like a Wainwright curve ball.

  11. Jimmy P
    December 15, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Budget aside, Sandy Alderson has been very fortunate that the Mets have been playing in the NL East. Currently 3 of the 4 teams they compete against aren’t trying to win — and haven’t been trying to win for past several years. We play 54 games a year against teams that are punting the season.

    That’s not going to last forever.

    It’s going to get a lot harder to win 79 games. This might be our window!

    • NormE
      December 15, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      Jimmy,
      Looks like the Phils want to compete!

  12. Chris F
    December 15, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Im also curious about the Disney 50M$ which is going to all 30 teams in the first quarter of ’18. Isn’t odd we dont seem to be seeing that in any of the discussion? Was that what bought the Chiefs?

  13. Mike Walczak
    December 15, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    David Wright – please retire. You have been a great Met, but you are done. 20 mil that’s a lot of money.

    Look what the Angels are doing. They are trying to build a winning team.

    Another big Alderson move – Jose Lobaton

    Arrrgh

  14. TexasGusCC
    December 16, 2017 at 1:08 am

    They backload the Swarzak signing to save $1MM this year. Well, every little bit helps, I guess…

    In further news:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/15/sports/baseball/mets-juan-lagares-swing.html

    • December 16, 2017 at 8:45 am

      This was a good link. I went ahead and put this in The Garden.

    • Chris F
      December 16, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Thanks Gus. Excellent read.

  15. December 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

    sad. sad. sad. ……..mets. no. /// yankees. yes

  16. Jimmy P
    December 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

    On a less hysterical note, Alderson’s plan (and strength) is to wait out the market.

    There are a lot of players left and, I think, he’s trying a cost-conscious approach with his $30 million or whatever the number will be.

    He may ultimately be active, but he was never going to be out front.

    We have to wait and see.

    On Yankees: Stanton is one thing, a $300 million investment. But I am most envious of their young talent. It looks like they’ve got 4-5 really outstanding players all at league minimum. Plus getting Renteria right, and Castro, were both efficient, cost-effective moves available to every team in baseball. Signing Chapman, then trading him for quality prospects, then signing him again was a brilliant way to utilize their financial advantages. They are operating on all cylinders these days. You can only tip your hat. Or flip your finger, whatever the case may be.

    • TexasGusCC
      December 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

      I tip my cap to Cashman and have said it before, he has retooled completely without ever rebuilding but that was also because he had a strong and smart manager. I’m sorry to see the tandem broken up, but I don’t hate the Yankees like I did when I was a kid. It’s not their fault we can’t get our head out of our ass.

      And when they were giving us two prospects for Duda, but “we couldn’t trade with the Yankees”… loser’s mentality: willing to hurt yourself in order to not help an adversary.

      Wilpons = Losers!!!!!!!

  17. Eraff
    December 16, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Cashman does have all of the advantages, financially…he “retooled without rebuilding…” with on of the highest payrolls in the business—actually, he Both re-tooled and rebuilt

    That said….the Yankees practically Invented the deep back-end bullpen….and they have been incredibly smart about their development of players.

  18. IDRAFT
    December 16, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    The answer seems to be – once again – not enough. Shocking. There is a huge disconnect between how this ownership treats the fact that this is a NYC based team in ticket prices (they embrace it) and payroll.

    As a customer of the product I am finding this routine more and more offensive. I paid for a lot of tickets for the second half of last year and was rewarded with total garbage. Now it appears that none of the money saved will be reinvested and the one signing we made shows how crappy all of the “prospects” we got back were. We traded half of our team for right handed relievers and not one of them can do what Swardzk can do? We got back zip.

    I have been critical of Alderson plenty over the years but he is one more symptom, he is not the disease. Fred, Saul, and Jeff are a malignant tumor infecting the New York Mets. The don’t give a rats ass about anything other than using the lucky fact that they own a NYC team to wring money out of a rigged system.

    Could they win anyway? Sure, stuff happens. But it will be despite the management, which starts at the top and has winning as a zero priority. In the meantime, god bless anyone who wastes their brain cells with Mets “Hot Stove” thinking. Trying to figure out how a team puts together a roster to win when the management isn’t even attempting to do that is way too complicated for me. Who can we “reasonably” target? Since the logical answer unless Citi Field has been transported to Ames Iowa, is absolutely anyone, I say we should go get Machado immediately. Perfect new third baseman.

    It’s why I find it so weird when people say there is no sense in talking about the ownership. What else is there to talk about?

    The rest of it makes no sense.

    • TJ
      December 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      IDraft,
      I agree 100%, and this is why I have recently written a large number of negative posts directed at the ownership. On one hand, it is stale, old, boring and likely useless. On the other hand, so is droning on and on about how the Mets should go about assembling a team and valuing assets.

      Following the Mets and MLB is a hobby and entertainment. I will remain hopeful that their actions improve, but that is unlikely. Offensive is the best word to describe their behavior. I’ve been a fan since 1972 and this is the closest I’ve been to looking for other ways to spend my time and disposable income dollars. I can’t imagine that I am alone. We are far beyond Madoff and the global recession. If these creeps want to be a bottom half payroll, then they should have bottom half pricing for their customers tickets, parking, concessions, and cable TV fees.

  19. NormE
    December 16, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    There is a lot of justifiable frustration out there. If between now and the start of the season nothing more than window dressing is done, then Mets fans should show their displeasure at the box office. Continuing to give the Wilpon’s your hard-earned money is foolish, since they don’t appear willing or able to reciprocate.

    • Jimmy P
      December 16, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      I didn’t renew my plan.

  20. TexasGusCC
    December 17, 2017 at 2:22 am

    In late September, Marc Carig became a hero in every Mets fan’s eyes and known throughout baseball by bringing down the monster that Bozo the Manager was behind the scenes, as his Owner covered for him in everyway for years, while he mistreated and mismanaged his players.

    If Carig can do something about the Coupons, just what does every Mets fan owe him? A statue outside Citifield? Induction into the Mets Hall of Fame? Is even that enough?

    https://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/mets-jeff-wilpon-1.15485312

    • MattyMets
      December 17, 2017 at 11:37 am

      go, Carig!

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