Mets GM Sandy Alderson is operating under a mandate not to spend on new players until he removes money currently on the payroll, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.
While Alderson is notorious for wanting to begin the season with budget space to make in-season deals, which he has done the past two years, I hope this is not accurate considering the organization is coming off back-to-back postseason appearances.
In either case, Alderson obviously wants to trade Jay Bruce and his $13 million salary for an established, high-leverage, right-handed relief pitcher, then use his remaining money to sign a left-handed reliever and any pitcher willing to accept a minor-league deal.
Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world and it takes two to tango.
Instead, Bruce is still on the Mets, who have yet to add any new players to their projected roster. At the same time, teams that make the most sense for Bruce have better options, while also dealing with their own set of offseason moving targets.
Jun 12, 2016; Orioles relief pitcher Brad Brach (35) throws a pitch at Rogers Centre. Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
For instance, the Orioles have spent most of the winter looking for a corner outfielder and a designated hitter while also having a group of high-quality, right-handed relievers they can trade. As a result, it has long seemed like the Mets and Orioles matched up well for Bruce. However, both teams are operating on tight budgets and have more than one need. Similarly, both teams have been trying to trade excess talent and money in an effort to solve one problem, while freeing up enough cash to buy a solution to their second problem.
So, when the Mets reportedly asked for Orioles reliever Brad Brach in a deal for Bruce -- and also wanted Baltimore to pick up Bruce's salary, which would have saved Alderson around $10 million -- it would have put Baltimore over budget, which meant they wouldn't have been able to sign a DH.
In other words, to sign a guy like Pedro Alvarez (assuming Bruce would be in left field and Brach going to New York), the Orioles likely wanted Alderson to pay at least $5-to-6 million of Bruce's salary. The thing is, that would not have left Alderson with enough money to spend on a left-handed relief pitcher and bring down his Opening Day payroll.
Unfortunately for the Mets, the Orioles acquired OF Seth Smith and cash from the Mariners for RHP Yovani Gallardo earlier this week. The deal should save Baltimore roughly $4 million. Of course, it'll take more money than that to sign the other hitter they need, be it an Alvarez or Mark Trumbo. So, maybe Bruce is still an option -- but only if the Mets kick in for his salary.
The point is, if Alderson is trying to flip Bruce for a big-league reliever, it's quite clear he's going to have to pay a portion of Bruce's salary to get it done. There is no other way. Otherwise, he'll be left to move on from that goal, trade Bruce for dirt, and hope he has enough money available to cobble together a bullpen that will likely be without its closer through the first month the season.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) has been the lead writer of MetsBlog.com since 2003, as well as Executive Editor and Director of Digital Content for SNY.TV and host of the MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Citi.