Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Mets enter the 2019-20 offseason with a very strong core in place, but there are numerous deficiencies they'll need to address if they hope to go from an 86-win near-miss in 2019 to a playoff team in 2020.
Among the areas where the Mets should be looking to add: Starting pitching (with Zack Wheeler potentially departing via free agency), the bullpen (which was their undoing this past season), and center field.
The Mets already have a substantial amount committed to payroll for 2020, but those commitments drop significantly starting in 2021. What could that mean as they build their team for next season and beyond? Here's a deep dive...
SALARY ALREADY COMMITTED FOR 2020
The Mets have $126.01 million committed to the payroll for next season, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.
That includes $24 million owed to Robinson Cano, $25.5 million owed to Jacob deGrom, and $29.5 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes is entering the final year of his contract, and his status remains up in the air (at best) due to the season-ending ankle injury he suffered last year while on his ranch.
The Mets have an insurance policy on Cespedes and will recoup a significant amount of his salary if he doesn't play this season -- as they did in 2019.
If the Mets had only the $126.01 million committed to payroll for 2020, they would be in tremendous shape when it came to taking on additional salary for 2020 via free agency and/or trade. But in addition to what they already have committed, they will also be paying out a lot in raises via arbitration...
EXPECTED ARBITRATION RAISES FOR 2020
Unless the unexpected happens, the Mets will be giving out raises via arbitration to at least eight players -- and a handful of those players are in line for substantial raises.
Among the Mets' arbitration-eligible players are Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Edwin Diaz, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Robert Gsellman.
There's a chance the Mets trade some of the above players, but if they don't, they're likely looking at a combined salary of roughly $48 million next season. Add that $48 million to what the Mets already have committed in salary for 2020 and you get a shade over $174 million.
It should be noted that the Mets aren't actually paying Cano $24 million next season (they were sent $20 million by the Mariners at the time of the trade, with Seattle offsetting more of his total money owed through 2023 by taking on the contracts of Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak), so there is probably a bit more wiggle room than the $174 million number suggests. But it's still tight.
The luxury tax threshold for 2020 is $208 million.
POTENTIAL QUALIFYING OFFERS
The only player the Mets might extend a qualifying offer to is Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler, who is an unrestricted free agent, will earn close to $18 million on a one-year deal next season if the Mets extend a qualifying offer and he accepts. If they extend the offer and he rejects, the Mets will receive a compensatory pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
So bet on the Mets extending the offer to Wheeler, but don't bet everything.
POTENTIAL EXTENSIONS TO 0-TO-3 PLAYERS AND/OR ARBITRATION PLAYERS
A good chunk of the Mets' young core (Pete Alonso, Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, etc) have yet to reach arbitration, meaning they're making close to the league minimum. That makes them incredibly valuable assets and also makes them candidates for contract extensions.
Two other players who could be candidates for extensions are Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard, who are both two years away from free agency. With Syndergaard, though, the current relationship between player and team is complicated.
If the Mets were to explore contract extensions for any of their players this offseason, they could always do so while back-loading or middle-loading any such deal in order to blunt the impact to the 2020 payroll.
PAYROLL SITUATION IN 2021 AND BEYOND
While the Mets might need to get a bit creative this offseason, their payroll situation in 2021 and beyond is very good.
As things currently stand, the Mets have only $69.4 million committed to payroll for 2021. That number drops to $56.2 million in 2022 and $50.7 million in 2023. The Mets currently have zero committed to payroll for 2024 and beyond.
Among the players due to come off the books after the 2020 season are Cespedes, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. So while the Mets will likely need to find a new catcher, a bulk of the money coming off belongs to players who aren't expected to have much impact in 2020.
With the Mets in win-now mode and with the books opening up after this season, one would think they're in a good spot to vault past their usual comfort level this coming season. And it can be argued that it's something they'll have to do if they want to truly give themselves the best chance to take the next step in 2020.