The big question involving the Mets 2011 roster as we transition to 2012 is whether or not to sign Jose Reyes. But there are many other questions which Sandy Alderson will have to answer either with a thumbs up or thumbs down for next year’s roster. Let’s take a look at how Alderson handled arbitration cases last year and see if that gives us any idea on what he will do with the club’s cases this season.
Chris Carter – The Mets cut ties with Carter despite him being a pre-arbitration player.
R.A. Dickey – Signed to a two-year deal with a club option
Sean Green – Non-tendered
John Maine – Non-tendered
Fernando Nieve – Conflicting information is out there in regards to his status and what happened. It seems like he was arbitration-eligible and the Mets non-tendered him. Regardless of the terminology, Alderson did not bring him back.
Angel Pagan – Avoided arbitration and re-signed to a one-year deal
Mike Pelfrey – Avoided arbitration and re-signed to a one-year deal
Alderson showed the willingness to act in many different ways in regards to his players not yet eligible for free agency. It seems unlikely that he will sign anyone to a multi-year deal like he did with Dickey last year. But the team’s five arbitration-eligible players should not assume they will be offered a contract.
In fact, only Bobby Parnell should feel confident about the club tendering him an offer. And that has more to do with the club’s lack of useful relievers than Parnell’s production. I expect both Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey to be with the club in 2012 but would not be shocked if the Mets cut ties. Taylor Buchholz is unlikely to be back given his issues and Ronny Paulino is a coin flip.
Which brings us to the team’s pre-arb players. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that Alderson cuts ties with any of these players. But the most likely candidates would be Mike Baxter, Danny Herrera, Mike Nickeas and Jason Pridie. I expect all of them to be in Spring Training with the Mets and a few of them to make the Opening Day roster.
The Mets have eight free agents. In addition to Reyes, Miguel Batista, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Ryota Igarashi, Jason Isringhausen and Chris Young are all veterans with the necessary service time for free agency. It’s possible none of these players will return but smart money has the Mets bringing back three or four of these guys next year. Hairston and Igarashi seem the least likely to return. Evans seems ready to take Hairston’s spot as RH bat off the bench and Igarashi has been a disappointment in his two seasons in Queens.
Alderson will have a little more financial flexibility this offseason compared to a year ago. But he also has more spots to fill. Currently there are six players (Bay, Byrdak, Carrasco, Dickey, Santana and Wright) with 2012 contracts and nine pre-arb (Acosta, Beato, Davis, Duda, Evans, Gee, Murphy, Niese and Thole) players that seem a lock to return.
Assuming $500K salaries for each of the nine pre-arb players mentioned above, the Mets have around $68 million in payroll accounted for in 2012 with 10 roster spots to fill. With payroll expected to be between $100-$110 million, the Mets have roughly $37 million to spend this offseason. Half of that (or more) will go to Reyes if they’re able to bring him back.
How Alderson spends that $37 million will go a long way in determining the success of the 2012 team.