Latest update from SNY’s Andy Martino does not have the big trade with the Mariners being completed today. And until the deal is done, there’s always the possibility it falls apart. So, let’s pretend for a minute that trade doesn’t happen. And let’s see what other options are out there for the Mets.
Unfortunately, we always have to start with salary as the owners impose financial restraints that other big market clubs don’t have. And please – no comments about the cheap owners. We all know, understand and agree. We don’t need Captain Obvious pointing out that the sky is blue.
Here’s what’s for sure, with all totals in millions:
$29 – Cespedes
$15 – Wright
$14 – Bruce
$ 9 – Frazier
$ 9 – Lagares
$ 8.5 – Swarzak
$ 8 – Vargas
Total – $92.5
Arbitration Estimates from MLBTR
$12.9 – deGrom
$5.9 – Syndergaard
$5.3 – Wheeler
$4.7 – Flores
$4.4 – Conforto
$3.7 – d’Arnaud
$3 – Matz
$1.3 – Plawecki
Total – $41.2
That’s $133.7 million for 15 players, two of which won’t be on the Opening Day roster. So, the club has to fill 12 spots and while many of them will be minimum wage type guys, that doesn’t leave a ton of available payroll, assuming that the number will be similar to the OD payrolls of the past two seasons.
Last year they paid Matz $577,000 so let’s use that figure for the upper end of the pre-arb players and assign minimum wage to the remaining slots and see what total we’re at and how much money remains. Minimum wage will be $555,000 in 2019.
$.577 – Lugo
$.577 – Gsellman
.577 – Nimmo
.577 – Rosario
.555 – McNeil
.555 – backup infielder
.555 – backup outfielder – need two
.555 – reliever – need 4
Total – $8.1 million
That’s $141.8 million with eight guys making minimum wage and four others making well under one million. And since last year’s OD payroll was $150.6 million and the year before was $154.4 million – that only leaves roughly $12 million to spend without a significant upgrade in the available budget.
If the club non-tenders d’Arnaud and Flores, that’s a net addition of $7.3 million, assuming they’re replaced with minimum wage guys.
That’s roughly $19 million to divide somehow among catcher, first base, outfield and the bullpen. You have to make choices and it’s hard to imagine that this type of budget leaves money for first base or the outfield. They have to spend something on a catcher because the idea of Plawecki and a minimum wage guy is hard to accept. And while some of the relievers will be in-house options, it’s hard not to imagine a closer being where the club spends money.
Now, let’s do this with the reported Mariners deal, which has from a major league roster perspective Bruce and Swarzak leaving and Cano and Diaz and roughly $12 million arriving.
SP – deGrom, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz, Vargas — $35.1
RP – Diaz (pre-arb), Gsellman, Lugo, 4 minimum wage guys – let’s call it a nice round $4 million
C – Plawecki, minimum wage – round up to $2
INF – Cano, McNeil, Rosario, Frazier, 1B, backup MI – roughly $25
OF – Conforto, Nimmo, Lagares, two backups – roughly $12
Dead Money – Wright, Cespedes – $44
That’s $122.1 million, leaving roughly $30 million for upgrades. You no longer have to spend on a closer, although you’ll still probably add at least one reliever. But even setting aside $5 million for a reliever, you still have $25 million for a catcher, 1B and OF. And there’s always the option to play Cano at 1B for however long Cespedes is out or until Alonso is deemed ready. Or you could focus on still spending on the bullpen to go along with the new catcher. Something like Grandal and Callaway’s old pal Miller.
It could be a post All-Star break lineup like this:
CF – Nimmo
LF – Cespedes
RF – Conforto
C – Grandal
2B – Cano
1B – Alonso
3B – McNeil/Frazier
SS – Rosario
At the start of the year it would have Lagares instead of Cespedes in the outfield, with Cano at first and McNeil at second. With the starters intact and a bullpen of Diaz, Miller and Lugo to shut the door, it could work.