Earlier this week, the New York Mets announced that David Wright had accepted a role in the team’s front office while also confirming that the two sides had officially agreed to a mutual release. In addition to clearing up a spot on the 40-man roster, the news signaled that a contract settlement had been reached between the Mets and the Captain, although specifics were not originally disclosed.
Over the past couple of days, details have emerged which have clarified the team’s payroll situation for the 2019 season. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the club will essentially pay Wright $9 million while saving $6 million for the upcoming season. Of that $9 million, $4 million will be paid in one lump sum today (January 10), with the remaining $5 million spread out over the year.
The Mets will then defer the remaining $6 million over three years. The Mets will pay back this money—with 2.5% interest, compounded monthly—in three $2 million payments on July 1 of 2021, 2022, and 2023. The interest will then be paid to Wright on December 31, 2023. No specifics were revealed on what will become of the $12 million owed to Wright in 2020 or on how much and when the Mets will recoup some of that $9 million from the insurance company.
In the short-term, this means that the Mets have around $6 million more to spend, should they choose to, for the upcoming season. Prior to the news, the team’s projected 25-man payroll came in at $147,756,667, according to Cot’s Contracts, which factored in the recent additions of Keon Broxton and J.D. Davis and the subtraction of Kevin Plawecki’s projected arbitration.
With the relief coming from the restructure, the payroll will inch closer to $140 million and will settle in at $141,756,667. This number falls below the team’s payroll on Opening Day 2018 ($150,558,844, according to Cot’s) and 2017 ($154,437,460, according to Cot’s), and is only slightly higher than the number was on Opening Day 2016 ($135,188,085, according to Cot’s), when the team was coming off a pennant-winning season.
This amount also factors in the entirety of Yoenis Cespedes’s $29 million salary. It stands to reason that, if Cespedes misses the entire 2019 season, the Mets will recoup at least half—and perhaps more—of that amount from insurance (Jeff Wilpon previously stated that the insurance on Cespedes is “a little bit less than David’s,” which was 75 percent.)
Mets’ 2019 Payroll
|Club Control (10)||$6,325,000|
|* Arbitration projections according to Cot's Contracts|
In a perfect world, this should afford the team close to $20 million in wiggle room to fill the remaining holes on their roster. This would bring the Mets up to a reasonable payroll estimate of $160 million. With a little over a month to go until spring training begins, the club could still use some help in their bullpen, and ideally another potent bat in their lineup.
However, all indications over the past couple of weeks seem to point to the club being done with the bulk of their offseason spending. When discussing the possibility of signing another outfielder like A.J. Pollock, Matt Ehalt speculated that “the Mets may be tapped out financially”. Furthermore, Mike Puma noted that, while it is unclear how much Brodie Van Wagenen has left to spend, “it isn’t a lot.”
Hopefully, these tweets are just speculation, because the Mets still have several needs on their roster that need to be addressed if the team wants to put itself in a position to contend in 2019. It’s almost certainly wishful thinking to think the Mets will make a late push to sign either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper—even though they absolutely should’ve been in on both players—but there are still plenty of available free agents that would immediately improve the team. The Mets have plenty of room to spend—they are currently about $65 million under the luxury tax threshold—and they must do so to prove they are all in on contending in 2019.