According to John Harper of the Daily News, Mets ownership won't give general manager Sandy Alderson more than $30 million to spend on 2014 payroll this winter because of the high price of free agent players. It's hard to imagine the team living up to Alderson's prediction that the team's payroll would exceed $87 million next season under such restrictions.
It is, of course, possible to build a winning baseball team on a shoestring budget, but if what Harper heard is true, the Mets' offseason looks awfully bleak. With the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay supposedly off the books -- both players' contract buyouts were supposedly charged to 2013 payroll -- the inability of a baseball team in New York City to spend even a moderate amount of money is incredibly disappointing.
The Mets' inability to spend even as much as the average Major League Baseball team would not come as a surprise, unfortunately. If ownership can't come to grips with the reality of the free agent market, the Mets aren't very likely to be any better in 2014 than they were in 2013. And saying you won't spend more on payroll because market-rate players cost more is a perfect way never to spend money on free agents.