The Mets are tentatively set to reduce their Opening Day payroll by roughly $20 million, reports Joel Sherman of the NY Post, citing "conversations with people inside and outside the organization."
The Opening Day payroll in 2017 was $155 million, and the Mets already have roughly $125 million committed to players for 2018. That would mean that as it stands, they have roughly $10 million left to spend on player acquisitions.
Sherman notes that while the current plan is to reduce payroll, it's customary for ownership to set a loose payroll number while allowing for GM Sandy Alderson to "come to them with any deal he likes regardless of cost and sell the merits."
Alderson said during the 2017 season that the team aimed to immediately return to contention in 2018, but seemed to temper expectations regarding potentially impact player acquisitions while speaking last week at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.
Alderson suggested the team wanted to acquire a second baseman, a first baseman who can also play the outfield (but wouldn't block Dominic Smith), and a reliever (they have since signed Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal worth $14 million). Regarding help for the starting rotation, Alderson referred to that as fourth on his list of three needs.
The tentative payroll reduction, Sherman explains, is partially due to the Mets' internal view that their starting rotation "might never be the powerhouse they hoped it'd be," which when combined with "other factors" has "lowered the Mets' internal assessment of their playoff chances" and in turn lowered how much the team is willing to spend this offseason.