You want to confuse people? Mets sign Pujols and fill the rest of the team from the minors.
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/alderson-has-10-15-million-to-spend-on-17-roster-spots.html - This afternoon in Dallas, Sandy Alderson told reporters that the Mets have between $20 and $25 million to spend this off-season, but that range includes paying Mike Pelfrey and Angel Pagan who will likely earn roughly $10 million in arbitration. That leaves approximately $10-15 million to spend on 17 other roster spots. It also means, Alderson must have misspoke again when he said that payroll would be the same with or without Reyes. That’s happening a lot these days.
Sandy seems to throw out these statements that he knows the fans will take one way, and will calm them down a bit, but he really is talking something else. $20-25M for additional players, on top of who we had last year and are still under control is quite different from $20-25M for everyone who doesn't have a guaranteed contract.
Not much you can do with that, except fill out the roster with a lot of minimum salary guys, unless you non-tender or trade Pelfrey and/or Pagan or trade someone else.
Michel Friere: - I think the Mets plan on targeting the bullpen, first and foremost (maybe two or even three low cost additions). Perhaps another veteran starter or two for the rotation competition in Spring Training and a veteran platoon catcher. Outside of that, if they can upgrade another position for now and the future (like CF), that would be on the list, too. However, I don't think Sandy and Co will spend money just to reach a "loose" budget. Rather, they will address the listed openings and if they spend the entire surplus, so be it. Otherwise, it would seem more prudent to spend wisely, rather then just to spend a set amount.
Jack Flynn: - Cot's Contracts suggests that $64 mill is committed to five players. Pelfrey and Pagan's arb awards means that about $75 million would be dedicated to seven people. Assuming the 12 guys you mentioned make the team, the Opening Day Roster would look something like this:
The team you're running out there right now is probably a 75- to 80-win team, depending on how much Santana pitches. That leaves room for two relievers, a backup catcher, another infielder and two outfielders. The payroll estimate changes every day, but assuming the Mets are going to $100 million, it leaves them $20 million to use to fill out the roster.
Free agency is not the entire answer. The Mets could budget, say, $6 million for two relievers. One of whom should be an older reliever on a one-year deal with closer experience, who will have the inside track on the closer job but could be pushed by Beato or by Parnell (God help us all). Octavio Dotel would be a perfect fit there and probably could be gotten for four million dollars and a club option. The other reliever should be left-handed, but should NOT be a specialist. Alderson should be looking for someone with a track record of success against batters from both sides of the plate, who because of injury or ineffectiveness is searching for a contract this year. George Sherrill has been pigeon-holed as a left specialist, but except for a disastrous 2010 has been relatively effective against righties as well. Dotel and Sherrill will provide temporary effective solutions at reasonable cost, without getting in the way of some of the younger arms in the pen.
Thole is the starter, so any generic right-handed catcher who hits lefties well can be his platoon partner. Spend no more than $2 million here. Duda needs a similar complement in right field - same financial rules apply. That leaves $10 million in "salary absorption opportunities" from other teams through trades.
Tejada has been penciled in at shortstop with Jose Reyes's departure, but he plays second base as well. That means Alderson can scout the league and try to pick up a talented second baseman or shortstop who is about to become too expensive for someone else and play Tejada on the other side of the field. If Sandy trades for a shortstop, Tejada and Murphy can split time at second base until one of them wrests the job away from the other.
Pagan is more of a fourth outfielder or a bottom-of-the-order third outfielder on a championship team, but all signs indicate that he's the starting center fielder in Queens in 2012. That is, unless Sandy unearths a center fielder on the trade market good enough to push Pagan back into that reserve role. Terry Collins could then give him 10 starts in center field, 20 in left field and 30 in right field, while using him as a defensive replacement all over the diamond.
A good middle infielder and a good center fielder will likely stretch the $10 million surplus into the $15 or $20 million range, but that still means the payroll will be under $110 million. Not unreasonable.
Extra thoughts: If the payroll has a hard cap at $100 million, the Mets can do one of two things non-tender Pelfrey and Pagan or dump their contracts in Spring Training. There are enough Buffalo arms that can battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, and there's always a terrible veteran who will pitch for $750K if the Triple-A options are particularly bad. Alderson won't want to non-tender Pagan unless he swings a deal for a CF quickly, but I suspect the Mets could easily dump his salary before Opening Day and get a C-level prospect in return, given Angel's speed and defense.