The Mets’ 2011 season is officially over, so it’s now time for every fans’ real favorite part of the year: Pretending to be the team’s general manager. Here’s your worksheet, should you want to plan out ways to make the Mets better. Tip of the hat to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Let’s cap payroll at $110 million dollars, the total Sandy Alderson estimated as a soft cap yesterday. Starting with the albatrosses:
Guaranteed contracts for 2012:
- Johan Santana – $24 million dollars
- Jason Bay – $16 million dollars
- David Wright – $15 million dollars
- R.A. Dickey – $4.25 million
- D.J. Carrasco – $1.2 million
- Tim Byrdak – $? million
Assuming a $1.5 million dollar deal for Byrdak, that’s about $62 million dollars for six players — but that’s not quite the salary floor, because the Mets still need 25 guys to fill out a roster. If we assume they retain these six players, sign no free agents, offer no one arbitration, and fill out the remaining 19 roster spots with their young players still making the league minimum — which is “only” $8.2 million for all 19 players — the salary floor is now $70.5 million dollars. Assuming Theo Epstein doesn’t have a bit too much to drink one night and trades Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and cash for Johan Santana and Jason Bay, that figure is about the lowest the Mets payroll could possibly be next season.
But hold your nose, because this is how the cheap-o team would shape up:
Lineup, with salaries in $millions of dollars:
- C – Josh Thole – $0.45
- 1B – Ike Davis – $0.45
- 2B – Daniel Murphy – $0.45
- SS – Ruben Tejada – $0.43
- 3B – David Wright – $15.0
- LF – Jason Bay – $16.0
- CF – Jason Pridie – $0.43
- RF – Lucas Duda – $0.43
- C – Mike Nickeas – $0.41
- IF – Nick Evans – $0.43
- IF – Justin Turner – $0.43
- OF – Mike Baxter – $0.41
- OF – Kirk Nieuwenhuis – $0.41
- LHP – Johan Santana – $24.0
- RHP – R.A. Dickey – $4.25
- LHP – Jon Niese – $0.45
- RHP – Dillon Gee – $0.43
- RHP – Chris Schwinden – $0.41
- RHP – Bobby Parnell* – $0.45
- LHP – Tim Byrdak – $1.5
- RHP – D.J. Carrasco – $1.2
- LHP – Daniel Ray Herrera – $0.43
- RHP – Josh Stinson – $0.41
- RHP – Pedro Beato – $0.43
- RHP – Dale Thayer – $0.41
Bobby Parnell may or may not be eligible for salary arbitration; he’s close to the cutoff, which is why he’s been asterisked. There are a handful of Mets players who are close to the shadowy two-year/three-year cutoff for first-time arbitration, so we’ll see what happens to them this winter. It is worth considering that the 2013 Mets will see Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell all hit arbitration for the first time that year, making them far more expensive and cutting into the team’s flexibility next next-season.
Anyway, that is . . . not a very good looking Mets team. Even with great health and optimism, it’s looking like a 77-win squad. (Knowing that I am biased, you should really subtract a couple of wins off that total.) At the very least, I think we’ve established that Sandy Alderson should sign some free agents. At least one. If you want to play pretend-GM, that’s your $70.5 million dollar, 70-something win blank canvas. You have $40 million dollars left to spend.
First things first, your arbitration players. Taking a look at the players eligible, with salary estimates:
- Mike Pelfrey – $5 million
- Angel Pagan – $5 million
- Ronny Paulino – $1.5 million
- Taylor Buchholz – $1 million
- Manny Acosta – $1 million
- (Bobby Parnell – $1 million)
If the Mets offered contracts to all these players, it would marginally improve their lineup, bench and rotation at the cost of about $12 million dollars. Bringing back all these dudes makes the Mets an (optimistic) 80-win team with good health and average luck, bumping the payroll up to $82 million dollars. Keeping with the $110 million dollar cap, that leaves the team with about $28 million dollars in flexibility left over — really not that bad, considering they had $10 million to work with last season.
Of course, if you add in this:
Jose Reyes – $20 million
Now you’ve got an (optimistic) 85-win team with $8 million left to spend. Considering injuries and the tough NL East, it’s probably closer to a .500 team, maybe a tick below. It’s basically this season’s team, assuming better health and luck, but without half-seasons from Carlos Beltran and Frankie Rodriguez, and Johan Santana replaces Chris Capuano.
And you still need to fix the bullpen, improve the defense, add middle infield depth, outfield depth and depth in the rotation. I’m stumped already. Being a fake GM is hard.
That’s just the starting point for Sandy Alderson and the Mets though. They do have about $28 million to spend on free agents this winter — the question isn’t “if” they can afford Jose Reyes, because they absolutely can afford him, but rather “if” they want to pay him that much money. Re-signing Jose Reyes wouldn’t leave the Mets with much financial wiggle-room, and he’s not going to push them into the postseason next season all by himself.
But there you go, pretend-GMs. You have $28 million to spend on free agents, a bit more if you non-tender some players. That’s what the Mets are working from. Open up the MLB Trade Rumors free agent list, like I am right now, and pretend-GM away. It’s all we can do until pitchers and catchers.