Christmas may be two months away but there’s a shiny new toy Mack and I would like to see under the NY Mets’ tree this year. When I was a child I was told not to ask for anything advertised on TV as my parents were poor and their theory was that highly advertised products came at a premium price. This toy, unfortunately, will as well, but if we get creative it’s possible the Mets can afford it.
Right now there are a few big ticket players on the Mets’ roster who are not destined to be here for very long. The obvious one is Yoenis Cespedes who, between his heels and the holes on the ground on his ranch, has rendered himself into a very expensive non-entity during the surprisingly competitive 2019 team.
Another similar red mark in the ledger book belongs to Jed Lowrie, that surprising late addition to the NY Mets’ roster which was going to force Todd Frazier across the diamond to play 1B. How nice for the Mets that those plans didn’t work and Pete Alonso got a chance to play every day.
The reason I bring up these two players is that their contracts are expiring at the end of this upcoming 2020 season. Yo is going to be paid handsomely to the tune of $29.5 million. The man named Jed is going to receive $10 million.
Theoretically departing this year are the salaries of Juan Lagares and Todd Frazier as well. Each of them were due $9 million, so that’s another $18 million in the kitty with which to spend.
Now, before you get too excited, remember that in addition to the usual salary bumps and arbitration cases, you have a monster jump in pay for Jacob deGrom who goes from $9 million to $25 million. There goes $16 million of that money right there.
Remember, too, that Jeurys Familia accepted a backloaded contract that only paid him $6.66 million in 2019 and he jumps $5 million more to $11.66 million in 2020. So now you’ve already spent $21 million on those two salary increases alone. Wilson Ramos’ backloaded contract calls for a $3 million jump in 2020 as well, so you’re up to $24 million.
When the season began in 2019 the Mets were at a $178 million payroll which fell $27 million below the luxury tax threshold for the season. That number is inclusive of the 40-man roster, by the way.
OK, so let’s assume we start at a similar number for 2020. The shiny toy we want is Anthony Rendon who is likely to command close to what Manny Machado and Bryce Harper got last season, though perhaps for a shorter term since he’s already turning 30. Figure $30 million per year would do it.
So you have $39.5 tied up in expiring contracts for Yo and Jed. Ramos is expiring as well, though you have an option. Justin Wilson is also expiring.
The question is can BVW convince the Wilpons to approach that $205 number for a single year now with the understanding it should drop significantly in 2021 when these folks are no longer on the payroll? If so, then Rendon patrolling 3B is indeed a reality and it renders Lowrie into the supersub for which he’s more likely suited at this stage of his career.
There’s a problem with this scenario, however. You still need to address the 5th starter void assuming Zack Wheeler and Scott Boras want to see what he’s worth. Then comes the 2021 crew of Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz who will need more money. Towards that end you’re going to need a low-cost starter and I can foresee them grabbing a Bartolo Colon type on a one-year deal with an option that gives Thomas Szapucki, Jordan Humphries and Franklyn Kilome some time to develop to fill that void. Rich Hill, for example, will be 40 and no longer commanding the type of money the Dodgers have been paying him. He might be the type with whom to tread water until the kids are ready.
Landing Rendon can be done. It means swallowing hard on payroll for one year. Whether or not the Wilpons will do that is Brodie’s job.