In his first big move as New York Mets general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen was able to improve the team while simultaneously saving money in the short-term. The trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz brought the team’s 2019 payroll to just under $130 million when accounting for arbitration estimates and cost-controlled players.
Since the trade, Van Wagenen has turned to the free agent market to improve his new club, signing relief pitcher—and former Mets closer—Jeurys Familia and All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos to fairly reasonable deals. In the process, he was able to net two of the top free agents on the market without breaking the bank. Although a firm payroll number has not yet been divulged by anyone within the organization, it is likely that Brodie Van Wagenen is working with a budget of around $160 million, which is roughly $10 million higher than the Opening Day 2018 payroll.
As it stands now, the Mets have $149.667 million committed to the 2019 team, according to Cot’s Contracts. It is worth noting that the above number includes all of Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright’s salaries and does not take into account any potential insurance money that the club will recoup. This figure includes $6.667 million to Familia in a back-loaded deal that will pay him $11.667 million in both 2020 and 2021. With respect to Ramos, the club will be paying him $8.25 million in 2019 and $9.25 million in 2020 with a club option for 2021 or a $1.5 million buyout for that season. This brings the total guaranteed commitment for Ramos to $19 million, which is very cost-effective for the level of production he has provided over the past three seasons.
Mets 2019 Payroll Updated
|Club Control (10)||$5,750,000|
|* Arbitration estimates according to Cot's|
Given the above commitments, is reasonable to expect that Van Wagenen will turn to the trade market in order to acquire talent or to free up money to spend on the open market. Previously, the team has been linked to A.J. Pollock and Andrew Miller, but both players are likely to command a multi-year contract with an annual salary north of $10 million, which would bring the Mets up to $160 million and could preclude them from addressing multiple areas of need.
The club will likely part with one of their two non-Ramos catchers prior to Opening Day, with Andy Martino saying that the club could be looking to trade Kevin Plawecki this offseason. If Plawecki remains on the roster, Travis d’Arnaud—who was tendered a contract earlier this offseason but is still recovering from Tommy John surgery—could be released during Spring Training and would only be subject to either 30 days’ termination pay or 45 days’ termination pay, depending on the date of his release. A move away from either Plawecki or d’Arnaud could save the team anywhere from $1.5-$3 million in 2019. The Mets are also reportedly looking to shop Juan Lagares, which could free up money for Pollock.
In examining the long-term outlook, the Mets have $85.167 million in commitments going into 2020. In 2021, the club has $33.417 million committed to two players—Cano and Familia—along with the Ramos club option. This still leaves them in a very favorable position to offer long-term deals to free agents and potentially extend some of their assets—namely, Jacob deGrom—especially if they backload deals like they did with Familia.
It remains to be seen what the final Opening Day roster will look like, but Van Wagenen has done an admirable job of recognizing his restrictions and working around them to construct the best possible on-field product heading into 2019.