With Michael Cuddyer retiring, it's time to look at the Mets' 2016 payroll again. As of a few days ago, the team had approximately $102 million committed to payroll next season. Details of Cuddyer's retirement haven't been announced by the team, but if he is forfeiting all of his salary, that leaves the Mets at approximately $89.5 million. Whatever their budget, they should clearly have more room to work with now.
Looking at the seasons beyond next year, the Mets' payroll commitments are fairly low, too. David Wright is set to earn $20 million per season for the next three years before his salary drops to $15 million in 2019 and $12 million in 2020. Curtis Granderson, the team's second-highest paid player, will earn $16 million next year and $15 million in 2017, after which his contract expires. The duo will be at its most expensive in 2016, but the commitments to those two only decrease from there.
The only other players guaranteed salary beyond 2016 are the recently-signed Asdrubal Cabrera, who is set to make $8.25 million in each of the next two seasons, and Juan Lagares, who early this year signed an extension with the Mets that runs through the 2019 season with an option for 2020. So here are the Mets' guaranteed salary commitments after next season.
The Mets have a bunch of players eligible for arbitration raises, though, almost all of whom they would definitely want to keep around. Let's take a look at that situation, via the excellent Cot's Contracts.
Players can be eligible for up to four seasons of arbitration, depending on whether or not their service time made them Super-Two players who got their first arbitration raises in their third season of major league play. Those who did not meet that cutoff are eligible for three years of arbitration. And generally speaking, a player's salary goes up a notch—with the amount roughly dependent on past performance—in each year of arbitration.
Here's the Mets' arbitration and free agency picture going into 2017:
- Free agency: Neil Walker
- Arb-4: Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada
- Arb-3: Addison Reed, Jenrry Mejia
- Arb-2: Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Torres, Josh Edgin
- Arb-1: Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Travis d'Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Obviously, things will progress from there. The Mets still have control of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz for six seasons, and their first arbitration years will kick in eventually. Even with the coming raises, though, things look pretty flexible, to borrow the team's favorite word about payroll.
With that, it sure looks like making a big signing this offseason in the outfield—with Yoenis Cespedes being the clearest fit left on the market given the Mets' needs—makes sense. Even if the Mets were to commit an average of $20 million per season to Cespedes for six years, it should not prevent them from retaining their own players in arbitration. If that sort of contract could mirror David Wright's, with lower commitments towards the end of the deal, it would pay Cespedes more while the young pitching is still mostly very inexpensive and balance out a bit as their salaries grow down the road.