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Where the Mets’ payroll stands as 2020 season approaches

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Let’s run down the list and see how things look this year and in the future.

Washington Nationals vs New York Mets Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

With this year’s round of arbitration settlements a few weeks in the past and the Mets expressing confidence in the roster they already have at their press conference introducing new manager Luis Rojas, it’s a good time to take a look at where the team’s payroll stands. It’s still possible that the team will make additions, but it would be surprising, to say the least. All salary numbers below are from Cot’s Contracts.

The big contracts

The top two earners on the Mets’ roster are Jacob deGrom, who’s set to make $25.5 million, and Robinson Cano, who’s set to make $24 million. deGrom’s salary increases to $36 million in 2021 and 2022 before dropping to $30.5 million in 2023. Cano’s contract also runs through 2023, but he’s set to make an even $24 million each year, with the Mariners picking up $3.75 million each year.

Total: $45.75 million.

The figure eights

Four Mets are set to make more than $10 million this year, and Marcus Stroman, who the team acquired in a trade with the Blue Jays last summer, leads the pack at $12 million. Jeurys Familia is coming off a bad season and is set to earn $11.67 million as part of the three-year deal he signed with the Mets during the 2018-19 offseason.

Jed Lowrie made a handful of token pinch hitting appearances for the Mets late in the 2019 season but effectively did not play for the team after a fairly vague set of injuries kept delaying and delaying his return to the field. It’s not even clear that he’ll do so in spring training, but he is set to earn $11.5 million this year. In terms of cost per plate appearance, he has a shot at being the most expensive player in Mets history.

And last but not least in this quarter is Rick Porcello, who the Mets signed to a one-year, $10 million contract despite his very bad 2019 season with the Red Sox. The one-time Cy Young winner has been durable in his eleven seasons in the big leagues, but he’s only had a sub-4.00 ERA in two of those seasons.

Total: $45.17 million

The over-five-but-under-ten

Noah Syndergaard was in his third out of four years of arbitration eligibility this winter and settled with the team for $9.7 million. Wilson Ramos signed a two-year deal before the 2019 season, and he’s set to earn $9.25 million this year. Michael Conforto settled with the team for $8 million, while Dellin Betances was signed to a somewhat complex deal the guarantees him $7.5 million this year.

Yoenis Cespedes is the wild card here, as his guaranteed salary was reduced to $6 million but could rise to as much as $20 million if he racks up a ton of plate appearances and avoids spending time on the injured list because of the ankle injury he suffered on his ranch last year while still rehabbing from surgery on both of his heels.

Edwin Diaz, who had a disastrous 2019 season, settled on a $5.1 million salary as an arbitration-eligible player.

Total: $45.55 million

The above-the-minimum-to-five guys

Steven Matz and Justin Wilson will each make $5 million this year, and they’re followed by Jake Marisnick, who settled on a $3.3125 million salary. Michael Wacha is guaranteed $3 million but could make as much as $10 million via incentives. Brandon Nimmo comes in at $2.175 million via an arb settlement, Seth Lugo at $2 million, and Robert Gsellman at $1.225 million. Relief pitcher Brad Brach signed for $850k over the winter and rounds out this group.

Total: $22.57 million

The total

With twenty players listed above, that leaves six open spots for players making the league minimum on the Mets’ active roster to start the 2020 season, as the league has expanded rosters from 25 to 26. Those slots would make $3.45 million combined, per Cot’s, assuming the Mets stick with only league-minimum players. And David Wright’s $12 million still counts in the Cot’s figures, even though public details about his settlement with the Mets when he stopped playing are vague.

Add all of that up, and the Mets are paying a total of $174.5 million. But between the insurance on David Wright’s contract and the settlement, it’s probably safe to assume his $12 million shouldn’t really be counted in what the Mets are paying their 2020 roster. That leaves us at $162.5 million.

Because the competitive balance tax uses the average annual value of a player’s contract and the Wright salary is included, Cot’s has the team’s CBT hit at $188.3 million, well below the threshold of $208 million that would make a team pay what’s commonly referred to as the “luxury tax,” a tiny percentage fee based only on the amount of payroll that exceeds the threshold.

Looking ahead

The Mets just don’t have all that much in the way of long-term salary commitments. Only deGrom, Cano, and Familia are guaranteed significant money next year by the standards of Major League Baseball. And only deGrom and Cano are guaranteed anything beyond 2021. That’s the sort of payroll flexibility that Sandy Alderson loved talking about during his tenure under the Wilpons.

In theory, that could be a good thing if Steve Cohen’s money starts factoring into spending. But for now, let’s just look at the players who will or could be eligible for free agency over the next couple of winters.

Free agents after 2020: Marcus Stroman, Jed Lowrie, Rick Porcello, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Wilson, Jake Marisnick, Michael Wacha

Players with options for 2021: Wilson Ramos (team), Dellin Betances (player), Brad Brach (player)

Final year of arbitration in 2021: Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz