Today marks the fifth day since the (unfortunate) conclusion of the 2015 World Series, and with it, baseball takes its first major step into the 2015-16 offseason. Options decisions—those that haven't already been announced, anyway—will need to be formally made, qualifying offers will need to be extended, and the exclusive window for teams to negotiate with their own departing free agents will close.
For rabid, year-round baseball fans, the start of the hot stove season presents a unique opportunity to play fantasy GM, to take what's here, combine it with what isn't here, and build a winner for the upcoming season. While trades, TRAIDs, and free agent signings are understandably the focus of these endeavors, it's that first piece, assessing what's here, that really sets up the game. With that in mind, let's take a look at the 2016 Mets, as they currently exist.
Group #1 - Players Under Contract (5)
|Player||2016 Salary||Total remaining contract|
|David Wright||$20 million||5 years, $87 million|
|Curtis Granderson||$16 million||2 years, $31 millon|
|Juan Lagares||$2.5 million||4 years, $23 million + 1 option|
|Michael Cuddyer||$12.5 million||1 year, $12.5 million|
|Jon Niese||$ 9.05 million||1 year, $ 9.55 million + 2 options|
These are the five players to whom the Mets have already committed 2016 payroll. Collectively, they represent about $60 million, which will more than likely account for more than 50% of the team's 2016 payroll. The only way for the Mets to clear any of this salary is to find a trade partner willing to take it on. ("What's up with the Niese numbers?" you might ask. The $9 million is salary, the $50,000 is the remaining prorated portion of his signing bonus, and the $500,000 is the buyout of his 2017 option.)
Group #2 - Arbitration Eligibles (11)
(Salary estimates from MLB Trade Rumors)
|Player||2016 (est.)||Arbitration year|
|Lucas Duda||$6.8 million||3rd of 4|
|Addison Reed||$5.7 million||2nd of 3|
|Matt Harvey||$4.7 million||1st of 3|
|Jeurys Familia||$3.3 million||1st of 3|
|Jenrry Mejia||$2.6 million||2nd of 4|
|Ruben Tejada||$2.5 million||3rd of 4|
|Buddy Carlyle||$1.1 million||3rd of 3|
|Carlos Torres||$0.8 million||1st of 3|
|Anthony Recker||$0.7 million||1st of 3|
|Josh Edgin||$0.6 million||1st of 3|
|Eric Young Jr.||$0.6 million||3rd of 3|
Jenrry Mejia will open the 2016 season on MLB's (unpaid) restricted list, so regardless of whether the Mets tender him a contract, he won't factor into the team's 2016 Opening Day payroll. Additionally, Josh Edgin will likely open the 2016 season on the disabled list while finishing up his recovery from Tommy John surgery. His salary needs to be factored in, but he would not initially occupy a 25-man roster spot.
Based on MLBTR's estimates, the other nine players on this list will collectively earn $26.2 million in 2016. While this payroll has not yet been committed by the Mets, the alternative is to non-tender the player, making him a free agent. The deadline to tender these players a 2016 contract is December 2. As a baseline assumption for this exercise, I consider that all of them will be retained by the Mets.
Group #3 - Pre-Arbitration Players (the rest)
Rather than listing everyone individually, suffice it to say that this group covers every other player on the Mets' current 40-man roster. The 2016 major league minimum salary should be announced later this month (it was $507,500 in 2015). I use $550,000 as a stand-in for two reasons:
1) most players in this group will make some amount greater than the league minimum, due to raises offered as part of the Mets' pre-arbitration salary schedule, and
2) it builds in a little conservatism (in case the arbitration-eligible players make out better than expected).
As with Josh Edgin from the last group, both Zack Wheeler and Jack Leathersich are expected to begin the 2016 season on the disabled list, recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Putting all of this together brings us to our starting point for the Mets' 2015-16 offseason:
You can make your own assumptions about the payroll budget, using trades and/or non-tenders to create additional room as you see fit. And as the offseason progresses and we see what decisions the front office actually makes, you can revisit this exercise and adjust accordingly. But for now, this should give you a good jumping-off point for thinking about the 2015-16 offseason.