While the Mets' 2015 arbitration season is in the books, let’s take a look at the players who will be arbitration-eligible for the Mets next offseason. Things could be more challenging for general manager Sandy Alderson next time around.
Let’s start with the big dog. If Harvey even pitches to 80 percent of his capabilities this year, he will be in line for a nice payday in 2016. For a comparison, San Diego Padres starting pitcher Tyson Ross pitched to a 2.81 ERA with 195 strikeouts in 195.2 innings pitched last year. Ross and the Padres agreed to $5.25 million as the fair price in his first year of arbitration. If Harvey is that effective, expect him to receive something similar.
The Mets are in a good position with Lagares, as defense-first players have typically been underpaid by the arbitration system that focuses primarily on offensive statistics. Arizona’s Gold Glove outfielder Gerardo Parra might be the best baseline to view Lagares’ possible payday. Parra earned $2.4 million in 2013 after hitting .273, 7 home runs, and 15 stolen bases the previous season.
Solid low-leverage relievers tend to get paid in the $1.0-$1.4 million range in their first go-around with arbitration. However, Torres has been a workhorse for the Mets the past two years, racking up 183.1 innings, and filling in for a spot-start here and there. If he puts in another similar season to last year when he's pitching a high number of innings with an ERA around 3.00, he could get something closer to $1.6 million.
If he gets the same usage he got last year, Familia should get near $1.5 million. If he were to somehow end up with the closer role and rack up a pile of saves, he could receive a salary closer to the $2.595 million Jenrry Mejia just agreed to for 2015. The financially-conscious Mets will probably see that his ninth inning opportunities are very limited this year.
If he can be a productive bench option and stay with the team this year, Captain Kirk may be staring at a fourth outfielder payday of around $1.1-$1.2 million. If he can’t perform in the role, he’s a non-tender risk in 2015 as he’s out of minor league options.
Averaging just 28 innings pitched in the big leagues the last two seasons, Edgin has had trouble staying out of the minors during his pre-arbitration seasons. If the lefty specialist wants to crack the $1 million barrier in his first year of arbitration, he’ll need a full-season effort similar to the Athletics southpaw Fernando Abad who settled for $1.075m this winter after posting a 1.57 ERA and 51 Ks in 57.1 IP during the 2014 season.
Recker came up just five days short in major league service-time to be arbitration eligible this off season. Backup catchers who only get 150-175 plate appearances a year are usually near the bottom of the food chain when it comes to salary arbitration. Across town, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli only received $700,000 in his first year eligible. Recker possesses a bit more power than the defensive minded Cervelli and will probably be rewarded a little more for it. If he repeats his 2014 season, Recker will likely get something closer to the $1.087m that Michael McKenry settled with the Rockies for. However with prospect Kevin Plawecki looming in Las Vegas, Recker could be a non-tender candidate. He also a minor league option available.
Mejia winning the primary closer job in 2014 gave himself a major boost in arbitration negotiations this winter. He was the highest paid first-time eligible reliever this off season, earning $2.595 million. Pirates’ closer Mark Melancon earned $2.6 million last year and had an excellent year with a 1.90 ERA and 33 saves that jumped his payday to $5.4 million for 2015. If Mejia locks down the closer role again, expect him to be in line for a similar bounty.
Duda is fresh off a big salary raise to $4.2 million and a repeat of last year will send his 2016 salary close to the $8 million that Brandon Moss just received. Duda is a Super Two so he will have a fourth year of arbitration in 2017.
Gee will earn $5.3 million in 2015 and with the Mets’ surplus of young pitching, he has been actively shopped by Sandy Alderson this winter. What’s really damaging his trade value is the fact that Gee could be in line for around $7 million next year even if he has another mediocre 4.00 ERA season. A $7 million salary for pitcher worth less than 1 win makes Gee a possible non-tender candidate for the acquiring team. This possibility hurts the potential trade return for the Mets. It's extremely unlikely that he'll be with the team in 2016.
Unless he is thrust into a full-time starting role again, Tejada figures to get a relatively small pay raise next winter. He settled for $1.88m for 2015 and that will likely climb to around $2.3 million in his currently projected role.
2016 salary obligations
Due to not likely being with the team next year, let’s remove Dillon Gee from the equation. I also believe it's unlikely Anthony Recker returns in 2016. This brings the total projected 2016 arbitration salaries to $28.55 million for 9 players.
Players already under contract for 2016 are David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, and Jon Niese for a total of $57.5 million. Coming off the books are pending free agents Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy, and Bobby Parnell. If the arbitration salary projections hold firm, that will put 13 players under contract for 2016 for an estimated total of $86.05 million.