Robert and I try not to get burned by the Mets Slightly Hot Stove – with Grandy talk, Cano talk, and a chat about Howard Johnson and the Mets’ differing philosophies on hitting. Plus, the weekly dose of One Good Thing and One Bad Thing.
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Hot Stove Happenings
HoJo and Hitting Philosophies
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (37:25)
Good: Experience Music Project, Mets will be better than 2013 in 2014
Bad: Bad MLB Trades, Granderson at 4 years
So last night as I was flying home, I took my first hack at lining up my Top 41 Mets prospects. I’m not sure when I’ll start them on this site. It’ll either be later this month or the first week of January.
This year, I first lined up about 60-some odd players, grouped by position. Then I synthesized the various position lists into one giant list all together.
Other techniques I’ve applied:
- During the 2010 and 2011 seasons (I think) I kept a running Top Mets guys list that I updated occaisionally throughout the season and then spent a whole lot more time tweaking in the off-season.
- In 2012, I did not keep a running list. Instead, I grouped by positions before combining into a whole list, but allowed myself considerable flexibility when moving from the single position list to my full rankings. I’m trying to be much more disciplined this year about making the positional and full rankings match.
This is where you, the reader come in. I’m going to be posting my position-by-position rankings. I have the list separated into: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CF, OF – Corner, RHP – Starters, LHP – Starters, RHP – Relievers, LHP – Starters. This will be your chance to argue for your guy, or against another.
One comment now after making the rough draft of the list: after about #16 or on the overall list, it’s really – for lack of a better word – squishy. The Mets’ group of players from #16 through the mid-30s this year seems really compressed in value. Or maybe I’m just getting jaded.
We’re going to play a fun game, match the Mets prospects/assets to those involved in trades for other teams. I don’t do this for every trade, only the ones that interest me for one reason or another.
Today we’ll take on the Rockies/Astros swap for Dexter Fowler and a PTBNL for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles.
Earlier this offseason, the Mets were rumored to be interested in trading Ike Davis for Dexter Fowler. On the same day they traded Fowler, the Rockies also “addressed” their first base hole, by signing Justin Morneau.
Fowler will be 28 in 2014, and has significant home road splits (.298/.395/.485 at Coors and .241/.333/.361 on the road in 1291 PA). He’s owed $7.35 million in 2014, and will be arbitration eligible in 2015 before becoming free agent for 2016. Still, he’s in the prime of his career, has been a league average hitter, and while the advanced metrics don’t like his work in center, he should be an asset defensively in a corner.
For the Mets, he would have been an improvement on Eric Young Jr. in the outfield at the least, and potentially much more. So, what did it take to bring him to the Astros?
Turns out, very little.
The right-handed Lyles was a good prospect in a bad Astros’ system who has never figured out the big leagues. Since making his big league debut in 2011, he owns a 5.35 ERA with 259 strikeouts against 117 walks in 377 innings with 431 hits allowed and a ERA+ of 74 (!) or an ERA- of 141 and a -2.8 bWAR overall. His Baseball America rankings rose from #6 after the 2008 season to #3 the following year to the top spot in the system after 2010 when he was the #42 prospect in baseball. Lyles has a four-seam fastball at 93 mph, a sinker at 92 mph, a slider in the upper 80s, a changeup at 83 and a curveball around 80-81 mph. He throws his two fastballs over 66% of the time combined. Every pitch he throws carries negative value at Fangraphs.
Lyles’ strikeout rates from the last three years have actually declined from 16.1% in 2011, to 15.8% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2013. Meanwhile, his walk rate has ticked up from 6.3% to 6.7% to 7.6% in the last three years. Lyles was a relatively low strikeout guy in AAA as well with a 14.4% strikeout rate in 2010 and 16.3% in 2011.
Lyles is young and has prospect pedigree. That’s about it. At ESPN, Keith Law argues that Lyles’ numbers have been hurt by throwing in front of Houston’s poor defenses the last few years, “… he has been below-average but above that replacement-level baseline when measured on his own performance. Lyles has a good feel for pitching and above-average control, suffering from his lack of any clear out pitch.”
The Mets do not have a Jordan Lyles – a failed former first round pitcher.
- Perhaps the closest the Mets’ current roster, offers, when taking into account only production, is Carlos Torres who bounced from the White Sox to the Rockies to the Mets in the last four seasons.
- Dillon Gee, who is older than Lyles, has been appreciably better, putting up a 2.2 bWAR in 2013 with a 3.80 RA9, his first year below 4.00.
- Jenrry Mejia had never really had any big league success either in 2010 or 2012, combined for a -0.1 bWAR between those two years. Then, in 2013, after returning from Tommy John surgery, he returned with better fastball command, more feel on his changeup and a new slider that helped him to a 2.30 ERA/2.96 RA9 and a 0.5 bWAR in just five starts.
- Statistically, perhaps the best match for Lyles in the Mets’ system is former second round pick Cory Mazzoni. in AA this past summer, Mazzoni had a strikeout rate of 26.2%, a 6.7% walk rate, an opponents’ batting average of .268 and a 4.36 ERA/2.70 FIP. In 2010 in AA, Lyles had a 21.3% strikeout rate, a 6.5% walk rate, a .266 opponents’ batting average, and a 3.12 ERA/3.36 FIP.
If we divorce position from the discussion, the Met most like Lyles – a former first rounder who has flopped in the big leagues recently – is the guy the Rockies were rumored to be interested in: Ike Davis. He hit just .205/.326/.334 in 2013 on his way to a 0.2 bWAR. That leaves out his productive, but short 2011, and his long slog through 2012 when he was still worth 0.9 bWAR.
The second player the Rockies acquired,, Brandon Barnes, who will be 28 in May 2014, is a 4th outfielder. He’s hit .233/.282/.330 in his two partial big league seasons in 2012 and 2013. Barnes is not as good as the 4th outfielder the Rockies traded to the Mets in 2013: Eric Young Jr., himself a career .258/.325/.338 hitter in 404 big league games.
If the Rockies were not interested in reacquiring Young, perhaps 25-year old Matt den Dekker (.207/.270/.276 in 63 PA) would have sparked their interest as an extra outfielder.
So, after picking up Lyles for the back of their rotation, and a Barnes for their bench, the Rockies signed Justin Morneau, who will turn 33 in 2014, for two years at $13 million. The great Dan Szymborski fired up his ZiPs machine to project “Morneau in Colorado 2014: 280/343/457, 104 OPS+ 0.9 WAR. 2015: 277/339/453, 102 OPS+, 0.5 WAR.”
Again, Morneau’s 2014 projection is awfully similar in bWAR to what Ike Davis actually produced in 2012. And Davis would probably be $3 to $5 million cheaper over the next two years. Of course, there’s that messy issue of 2013 as well.
From the Rockies perspective if they had done the deal with the Mets for say Ike Davis and Matt den Dekker for Fowler, they would have needed to add a starting pitcher from the free agent market or another trade. Those – free agent pitchers – are expensive, but most are better than Lyles. Also, Morneau is a safer bet than Davis, although Davis has more upside given their ages.
A package from the Mets centered around Dillon Gee for Dexter Fowler would have given the Rockies a better pitcher, although without the coveted “former Top Prospect” tag that Lyles carries.
Or maybe the Mets felt that they were better off committing the $7.25 million they would have had to pay Fowler to Chris Young, who will cost only money and not players. Still, the Mets have an open outfield spot remaining. An outfield of Juan Lagares/Young/Fowler, all three with centerfield pedigree, would have been very good defensively (and run a low batting average, but we digress).
Given the Rockies’ moves Tuesday, it certainly seems as though the Mets had the pieces to have acquired Dexter Fowler from Colorado. Fowler is younger than the remaining major free agent outfielders, like Curtis Granderson and Shin Soo Choo, and will require a fraction of the financial commitment.
Backman, a fine manager and teacher, who attracts more attention among the Mets' fanbase than he probably deserves based on his role in the '86 WS Championship team, back.
The Mets designated five players for assignment two pitchers – Scott Atchison and Jeremy Hefner – and three position players – Justin Turner, Omar Quintanilla and Jordany Valdespin. I had both Scott Atchison and Omar Quintanilla, who were both arbitration eligible for the second time, and Justin Turner, who was arb eligible for the first time, projected to earn $1 million in 2014.
Jeremy Hefner and Jordany Valdespin would have been due Major League minimum contracts worth $500,000.
In sum, then, the Mets saved roughly $4 million off of the 2014 payroll by non-tendering these five players. None of the moves should have been the slightest bit surprising. Justin Turner was worth 0.5 fWAR last year. No quantity of clubhouse smiles makes him a key part of a winning baseball team. Quintanilla (-0.3 fWAR) and Valdespin (-0.4 fWAR) were both replacement level players.
Atchison was a low strikeout reliever (5.56 K/9) who was similarly below replacement level (-0.1 fWAR).
Hefner had his moments, but in an ERA where offense is declining, his 4.34 ERA over 23 starts only produced a 0.3 fWAR in 2013. Baseball Reference’s accounting suggests that he was below replacement level in 2012 (-0.3 WAR) and 2013 (-0.8 WAR). Given that he will miss all of the 2014 season with Tommy John surgery, he was just wasting a roster spot and half a million bucks to the 2014 Mets. Ideally, by 2015, the Mets will have less use for sub-replacement level pitchers.
My updated 2014 Mets payroll projection (Mets Payroll 12-2) now puts the Mets hard and soft commitments at $70.66 million. Again, that’s by evenly distributing Jason Bay’s $15 million between 2014 and 2015. If the team is really planning on exceeding last year’s $87 million salary number, they now must spend $17 million to do so.
The Mets also now have five open spots on the team’s 40-man roster.
If you don’t want to talk about Alabama-Auburn, check in instead on some of the Mets playing ball in Caribbean winter leagues.
- Newly arrived Wilmer Flores joined up with the Bravos de Margarita on November 27, and has a hit in each of his first six games during which time he’s hit a crisp .500/.577/.550 with one double, four walks and one strikeout. It’s six games and all, but four walks in six games is a nice start.
- Juan Lagares has lost 130 points of OPS in his last nine games, but is still hitting .345/.378/.418 with five doubles and one home run for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican. Lagares drew one walk in his first 16 games and five walks in his last 11 games. He’s managing the strike zone a little bit with a 16/6 K/BB overall in 27 games. He remains a hitter who is very reliant on contact and batting average on balls in play.
Fighting for Bullpen Spots in Spring Training
- Joel Carreno – 2.16 ERA, 8.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 11 K. The righty throws in the low 90s and will certainly have a chance to pitch his way into the Mets bullpen in Spring Training 2014.
- Jeurys Familia – Familia began his winter in the Arizona Fall League where he had trouble with his control. His wildness has followed him to the Caribbean where he’s walked two batters (and given up two unearned runs) in his first two innings with the Gigantes del Cibao in the DWL.
- Gonzalez Germen – 10 G, 2.89 ERA, 9.1 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 5 K for Toros del Este.
Las Vegas 51s (On Opening Day 2014)
- Wilfredo Tovar has played 10 games at shortstop and five at second base for the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela while hitting a Tovar-ish .245/.273/.396. He does have five extra-base hits, three doubles, a triple and a home run in his 15 games.
- Cesar Puello – .178/.211/.260 in 26 games with two homers, and an appalling one walk against 20 strikeouts in 26 games for the Toros del Este in the DWL. He’s played center field and both corners. I’d like to believe that Puello will make his Major League debut for the Mets in the second half of 2014, with a chance to be something like a league average rightfielder by 2015. A K/BB ratio of 20/1 is not a good sign at all.
- Chase Huchingson – 3 G, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K for Aguilas del Zulia in the VWL beginning November 26.
Probably Not a Met in 2014
- Jordany Valdespin: .182/.333/.330 with 17 walks and 20 strikeouts in 29 games for the Tigres Del Liey in the DWL. He’s played mostly leftfield with a little time at the other two outfield spots and one game at second.
- Domingo Tapia: 2 G, 2 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, 1 K for Gigantes del Cibao in the DWL. Tapia walked 14% of the batters he faced in St. Lucie in 2013, and his control issues have followed him south for the winter.
- Randy Fontanez (Idios de Mayaguez, PWL): 4 G, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K
- Ryan Fraser (Leones de Ponce, PWL): 5 G, 2.45 ERA, 7.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Xorge Carillo - .287/.361/.380 with 7 2B, 1 HR, 10 BB, 21 K in 35 games. Fun fact: Carillo is one game played away from tying his regular season total of 36 split between St. Lucie and Binghamton.
Juan Centeno (Puerto Rico) Winter League – .167/.225/.278, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 BB, 5 K in 13 games.
I intended to do a “Thank You” post on Thanksgiving. My mother always told me it’s better late than never (well, about some things) so in that case, allow me to offer you a belated thank you for stopping by and visiting Metsminorleagueblog.com.
I’m thankful that this blog exists, that it gives me a place to write about baseball, Mets baseball and Mets prospects. It’s extremely gratifying that others spend some time everyday here.
Robert Brender and I talk about the Chris Young signing, options at shortstop, other Hot Stove happenings, and deliver the weekly dose of One Good Thing and One Bad Thing.
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Chris Young signing,
Options at shortstop,
Hot Stove happenings and non-happenings
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (26:35)
Good: Mets Holiday Card, Chris Young (yes, good things)
Bad: PED players getting paid, players complaining about other player contracts
I spent time this morning revising my post below trying to make sense of the Mets’ payroll. This included reading the CBA, and that’s always a hoot.
Anyway, I believe my original point stands better now. If the Mets are to eclipse last year’s $87 million payroll, they must add only about $13 million in salary for 2014 given a current baseline.
Issues with the Previous Analysis
1. Buyouts are Signing Bonuses for Luxury Tax Purposes
First and foremost, I learned something: for the purposes of the competitive balance tax, buyouts get treated as signing bonuses, and are prorated over the guaranteed years of a player’s contract (CBA XXIII, E-5-b). Thus, Santana’s $5.5 million buyout was treated asa $0.92 bonus over the first six guaranteed years (FOR TAX PURPOSES). How that changes the Mets’ accounting on Bay and Santana, I have no idea, although I suspect not much.
As I now understand it, this does not change the way in which the teams pay out the buyout, which happens before an option year, just the way the CBA counts that buyout money against team payroll.
2. Don’t Forget Players
I left a few players who played for the Mets in 2013 out of my original post.
I omitted Aaron Harang, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Aardsma, Rick Ankiel, Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Laffey and Sean Henn from the Mets’ 2013 payroll for no other reason than I forgot about them. (Stands to reason, they were all awesome.) This octet combined for $1,081,600 in my estimation system, although I did not apply any adjustments to the minimum veterans’ salaries, so I suspect they earned more than that.
Service Time Adjustments
I credited Josh Edgin with a full season in the big leagues, and a full year of MLB salary when he spent all of May and the first week of June in the minors. This overstated his cost to the Mets by about $113,000.
I neglected to give Wilfredo Tovar credit for his week and a half in the big leagues and the extra ~$58k he earned that way.
If I do nothing to my earlier signing bonus accounting, the tweaks I made to these 10 players pushed my estimate of the Mets’ 2013 payroll up to $88,410,960.
This includes all payments to players who were on the team’s 40-man roster, while they were in the majors and minors.
I have excluded the $0.25 million the Mets paid the Pirates as part of the John Buck/Marlon Byrd/Vic Black/Dilson Herrera swap and any other cash swaps as part of trades.
I’m still treating the buyouts as lump-sum payments due at the end of the guaranteed years. This is wrong relative to the CBA’s accounting, but matches when the bonuses are actually paid out in the real world.
The next step will be correcting that. Again, here’s my working spreadsheet (Mets Payroll) if you want to play along.
I’m leaving this issue for the day. I believe that my original point is still valid. Sandy Alderson’s proclamations that the Mets’ 2014 payroll will exceed 2013′s $87 million commits the Mets to spending, at this point, a minimum of $13 million more and possibly $20 if Jason Bay’s impact is removed. So, Mets fans can and should expect to see the Mets adding some players and salary moving forward.
Of course, players are not only measured in salary, and the idea is to add good major league players. The Mets could use more of those whether they can play the outfield, SS, or pitch. Adding good or even great players in free agency is awfully expensive. And that circles right back to the budget.
Last week, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told the world that the Mets’ 2014 payroll would be higher than their 2013 payroll, calculated at $87 million. This was reported as major Mets news. It’s really just a promise to spend in the neighborhood of $15 million in additional money on the 2014 team.
Forget what you’ve read elsewhere about the Mets’ payroll flexibility this winter. It is exaggerated. The Mets already have over $70 million committed to their 2014 payroll already. They should surpass that $87 million with ease. In fact, that $87 million is just a floor, and a very low one given the team’s existing commitments.
I confess that November’s $87 million number was new to me, but that’s my fault. Alderson first used it at the Mets’ September 30 end-of-season press conference.
- Per Adam Rubin, at ESPNNY, “Alderson said excluding the money owed to former Met Jason Bay, the Mets payroll for this past season ended up around $87-88 million.“
- At the New York Daily News, Kristie Ackert heard Alderson’s September comments as foreshadowing a similar payroll in 2014: “Alderson, who said the payroll will be around $87 million-$88 million, described himself as finally being free from financial constraints he has had to deal with…”
- Mike Puma in the New York Post, “Alderson said the Mets’ payroll this year — excluding the deferred payments still owed to Jason Bay — was in the $87 million to $88 million range. “
Baseball Prospectus’ invaluable Cot’s Contracts listed the Mets’ 2013 Opening Day payroll at $93,684,590. By shifting much of Jason Bay’s money from 2013 to 2014 and 2015, and carefully accounting for the team’s in-season moves, I could match the Mets’ own $87 million estimate.
- the Mets spent $87,582,860 on the team’s 40-man payroll in 2013. (There were many small adjustments that went into creating this estimate, so focus on the big numbers to the left, rather than a false sense of precision over the last dollar.)
- The team has over $74.5 million committed in 2014, depending a little on how Bay’s money is split between 2014 and 2015.
First, a caveat: I was unable to duplicate the math that produced Cots Opening Day number precisely, but I could get close.
I credited minor league players, who were on the 40-man roster, but not in the big leagues as earning $39,900, as the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement demands. My estimate on Opening Day payroll landed $889,040 over Cots’ estimate, so I suspect Cots was shorting the minor leaguers a few bucks, perhaps by using an old minor league minimum. For our purposes, that wiggle room under $1 million is well within the margin of error.
The major discrepancy between the Mets’ accounting and Cots’ estimation is the treatment of Bay and Santana’s money. When the Mets released Bay last November, they owed him $21 million. Of that, $6 million was to be paid in 2013 while $15 million was to be paid out in 2014 and 2015 to be paid out in five installments. Cots included almost all of Jason Bay’s money in the 2013 number – a clear mistake – but did not include Johan Santana’s $5.5 million buyout.
At one time, like November 2012, the Mets planned to count all of Bay’s money – the scheduled $16 million salary, the $3 million buyout, and the $2 million that was left of his signing bonus – against their 2013 budget. By September 2013, the Mets were excluding at least the $12-15 million the team still owes Jason Bay in 2014 and 2015 from 2013 payroll numbers, but including Santana’s buyout. In essence, the team was counting only their actual 2013 payroll obligations of $6,125,000 to Bay in 2013′s budget. That makes sense. But the team still owes Jason Bay lots and lots of money. Will that zombie-like, undead money return to the 2014 payroll? The 2015 payroll? I suspect the answer is yes.
To match the Mets’ own estimate of $87-$88 million on 2013 salaries, I made the following adjustments:
- added Santana’s $5.5 million buyout to his $26.5 million salary. (Note: as commenters have pointed out below, $5 million of Santana’s contract was deferred every year, and then is payable seven years after it was “earned.” The Mets will be paying Santana then until 2020. I treated all of Santana’s money as due in 2013. In truth, then, the Mets’ actually paid out $5 million less in 2013 than I have accounted for.)
- cut Bay’s 2013 compensation to $6.125 million
- Prorated everything to account for MLB service time. This includes:
- the MLB contracts of DFA victims Collin Cowgill (45% of the season) and Brandon Lyon (53%)
- the MLB contracts of traded players like John Buck, Marlon Byrd, Collin McHugh, Eric Young Jr. and Vic Black
- the MLB and minor league time of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, Zach Lutz, Robert Carson, Travid d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Gonzalez Germen, Juan Lagares, Zack Wheeler, Omar Quinatanilla, Vic Black, Carlos Torres, Josh Satin, Andrew Brown, Matt den Dekker and Juan Centeno
- I created an estimate of the percentage of the season a player spent on the active 25-man roster, and credited him with an MLB salary during that time, and assigned him a minor league salary for the rest of the year during which he was a Mets employee
- In the case of Nieuwenhuis, Lutz, Young, Torres, Carson, Satin and Brown and their ilk, all of whom had big league time prior to 2013, I used a minor league minimum of $80,000. The rules governing players like this, with big league time, but in their second or third season on a 40-man roster are complicated. Each player has an individualized salary floor depending on their previous season’s earnings, but for our purposes, whether they were making a prorated portion of $100,000 or $80,000 or something in between, in their minor league time, these numbers are close enough.
I made the following assumptions about the 2014 salaries:
1. ADDED IN $7.5 MILLION for JASON BAY. The Mets owe Jason Bay $15 million more after 2013. It could be that the team is splitting it $7.5 and 7.5 in the next two years or $6 million and $9 million, or some other more funky looking arrangement.
2. added arbitration raises to Arb2 players Dan Murphy ($6 M), Bobby Parnell ($3M), Scott Atchison ($1 M) and Omar Quintanilla ($1 M) consistent with Baseball Reference’s projections.
3. added arbitration raises to Arb1 players Ike Davis ($4 M), Dillon Gee ($3 M), Lucas Duda ($2 M), Eric Young Jr. ($2 M), Ruben Tejada ($1 M) and Justin Turner ($1 M) again consistent with Baseball Reference’s projections.
4. assigned Major League minimum salaries ($500,000) to the remainder of the Mets’ 40-man roster. In cases where the player had earned over $500,000 in any previous season, that player got credit for the extra salary (Scott Rice and Jeremy Hefner). This will deliberately understate the Mets’ 2014 payroll (but by less than a $1 million).
5. I made no adjustments for projecting Major League roster time. So, in my analysis, a guy like Juan Centeno is carrying the full MLB minimum of $500,000 whereas he will probably begin the year in AAA, earning the minor league minimum for a player on his second 40-man year of $81,500. This type of adjustment is relevant for the last few roster spots in the bullpen and in the outfield. This will overstate the Mets’ 2014 payroll (but by less than $3 million.)
The following chart explains all of this in numbers. The column on the left is the player’s Major League contract according to Cots. The middle column is an adjusted estimate of the player’s actual payroll to the 2013 Mets depending on my accounting of his time on the active 25-man roster. The final column is a projection for that player’s salary for the 2014 Mets.
|Brandon Lyon||750,000||402,750||DFA (7/9/13)|
|Marlon Byrd||700,000||567,000||FA (Phi)|
|Greg Burke||550,000||550,000||FA (Col)|
|Robert Carson||39,900||160,000||DFA (LAA)|
|Matt den Dekker||95,000||500,000|
Here’s the major takeaway: Bay’s contract really matters.
By removing the remainder of Jason Bay’s contract from the 2013 accounting and shifting it evenly to 2014 and 2015, the Mets can add as little as $13 million in net payroll to their 40-man roster as currently constructed, to make Alderson’s statement that the team would exceed last year’s $87 million in payroll, true. Or they could just count more of Jason Bay’s money against 2014.
Using the same assumption about splitting Bay’s money evenly, if the Mets do successfully trade Ike Davis and DFA Jordany Valdespin and Zach Lutz, for example, they would remove $5 million in payroll. In this scenario, they would need to add $18 million in payroll to exceed 2013′s number.
Even imagining a world where the Mets’ future commitments to Jason Bay just disappear from the 2014 and 2015 calculations, Alderson’s recent public statements hardly suggest a free-spending Mets. Removing all of Bay’s money from 2014 takes the team’s current commitments down to $67 million. At that point, the team would need to spend $20 million to surpass 2013′s payroll level.
The playing time adjustments to the 2013 salaries are much less important in the overall accounting than the $5.5 million of Santana’s buyout and the $15 million of deferred money to Jason Bay. Still, they matter. Assigning a full MLB minimum to every player who played for the Mets in 2013 would overstate payroll by a few million. In the same way, ignoring the mostly young players would shuffled on and off the roster totally would understate payroll.
The magnitude of any individual arbitration award is not terribly important. All could be, and likely will be, a little off from my estimate, but given that the Mets have enough arbitration-eligible players – six in their first year, and four in their second – it should all more or less cancel out. Thus, my final payroll estimate for 2014, which assigns an increase of $13.5 million for these ten players, is not too sensitive to any single arbitration salary. It also seems likely that one or two of these arbitration-eligible players will be traded before Opening Day 2014.
The Mets structured David Wright’s salary as $11 million in 2013 and then $20 million in 2014. In a world where the Mets are not significantly expanding payroll that $9 million increase eats away at the team’s flexibility.
This is not supposed to be encouraging. It also explains, in part, why the Mets never went really hard after say, Jhonny Peralta, a useful player who fit their needs, but who signed a contract worth $13 million annually with St. Louis.
This analysis has not really touched on what the Mets need to do to build a contending team out of a group that won 74 games in 2013 and will be approaching 2014 without Matt Harvey, its best pitcher. It just explains the minimum they need to do to make Sandy Alderson’s statements regarding an increase in payroll from 2013 to 2014 from September and November 2013 true.
Alderson has promised a minimum of $13 million net spending after adding Chris Young on the 2014 roster moving forward. The real questions is how much beyond the $13 million minimum, the Mets have to spend AND relatedly, how they are accounting for Jason Bay’s money. Can they get to $100 million through free agency or trades? Or build a winner on less?
Further Research and Resources
The spreadsheet I used to calculate salaries based on roster time is here (Mets Payroll) if you would like to explore it yourself or check my math. I color-coded the guys who are arbitration eligible to track how those awards or negotiations changes the overall budget outlook.
The full text of the CBA is here.
The Mets’ 2013 transactions are here.