Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, speaking with the team's beat writers during a luncheon, said the Opening Day payroll is an "ongoing dialogue" that could result in it matching last season's or being roughly $10 million less, noting that the team is open to increasing payroll if it's for a player who significantly improves them.
"There's no concrete line to go up," Wilpon said, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. "It's somewhat in flux to have conversations with Sandy (Alderson) and the rest of the baseball department to determine what the best course of action might be."
Alderson, speaking at the same luncheon, said the team has been active and that they're not finished exploring potential free agent signings, according to Newsday's Laura Albanese.
The Mets' payroll last Opening Day was $154.4 million. Their current projected Opening Day payroll for 2018 is $135.8 million, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.
While noting that increasing payroll doesn't always translate to wins, Wilpon said that he understands "where the fan perception is. That is not lost on us. But we have a plan and we are going to stick with it."
"I understand the fan base's frustration," Wilpon added, according to DiComo. "We have the same frustration -- not only myself, but the rest of the baseball department and the rest of the staff here at the Mets. We certainly want to win."
Wilpon also weighed in on next year's free agent class that is expected to include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and Clayton Kershaw, and said the players the Mets pursue will be determined in part by "the overall team structure that the baseball department determines."
In addition, Wilpon explained that the Mets do not reinvest their David Wright insurance money due to the cost of the policy, and the concern of over-budgeting in the event Wright returns. The Mets are covered for 75 percent of Wright's yearly salary each year (he's earning $20 million in 2018) in the event his games-played falls below a certain threshold. Wright will earn $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020, after which his contract is up.
Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported last month that the Mets had set a loose payroll number for 2018, and that a $20 million drop from 2017 was possible.
Sherman noted that while the current plan was to reduce payroll, it's customary for ownership to set a loose number while allowing for Alderson to "come to them with any deal he likes regardless of cost and sell the merits."
Roughly two weeks after Sherman's report, it was reported by John Harper of the NY Daily News that the Mets were monitoring the market for free agent Mike Moustakas, going on to note that "sources with knowledge of the Mets' plans" had informed him that the team plans to do more this offseason than had been recently reported.
The Mets' major signings so far this offseason have been signing RH reliever Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal worth $14 million, and OF Jay Bruce to a three-year deal worth $39 million.
There have been recent reports that the Mets had roughly $10 million left to spend if they don't shed additional payroll, which would take them to around $145 million and jive with the payroll being $10 million less than it was to open 2017 -- as Wilpon stated was possible.
Meanwhile, the team has been seeking to add another infielder -- preferably a second baseman. One of those options is the Pirates' Josh Harrison, who may be staying put in Pittsburgh. Aside from Harrison, the free agent possibilities include Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and Neil Walker.