With Reyes gone the Mets should be able to make an up-grade somewhere amongst the positional players and even if they don't feel there's anyone worth spending on, then they should at least make some lateral moves to shake things up a bit.
But the Mets maybe already maxed out; with contract commitments, arbitration and min. salary players to fill out the roster the Mets are basically at 80M, which leaves them enough for a few pitchers on reasonable contracts.
Whats the most alarming about this situation is that the Mets have quietly lowered their payroll expectation until we ended up in this situation. Basically despite 40 M coming off the books this season Alderson still doesn't have the payroll flexibility he sought when he first took the position.
Just take a look at these quotes and watch the payroll shrink right before your eyes...
Febuary 2, 2011 Star Ledger
But we’re always going to have a very high payroll, whether it’s $150 next year or $130, that’s a function of a lot of different things.
May 26, 2011 CBS New York
Alderson says he has not spoken with Wilpon since the article came out, but something in the $120 million range for his 2012 budget sounded reasonable.
“There was no quote from Fred about $100 million,” he said. “From my standpoint, that’s not a number we discussed and I would expect our payroll to be somewhere above that number and somewhere below where we are now.”
September 26, 2011 Newsday
I haven't found it to be the obstacle that most believe it to be. It doesn't necessarily limit our ability to spend money. Whether our payroll is at $120 million next year or $110 million, it's not because of anything Madoff-related. It's because we need to get a better balance between the revenues we generate and the expenses we incur.
September 29, 2011 Adam Rubin tweet via Mets Fever
Sandy Alderson confirms he envisions payroll in the $100 million to $110 million range for 2012 season. Cannot envision lower amount.
November 6, 2011 The Record
Reyes’ handlers are disappointed by the lack of initiative on the Mets’ part, but can they really be surprised? With the team’s mounting debt – including the $25 million loan from Major League Baseball that has yet to be repaid — the 2012 payroll will be reduced from $140 million to $110 million. Alderson indicated that figure could actually dip under $100 million before opening day. If so, that would represent the leanest war chest since 2004.
November 10, 2011 Adam Rubin ESPN NY
I don't expect the Mets to be spending a ton on the rotation, and Sandy Alderson has all but said do not expect another big free-agent signing to replace Reyes. Reading between the lines on what I've directly heard Alderson say, I'm speculating the Opening Day payroll will be in the $95 million neighborhood. I base that on Alderson saying that the payroll may start below the $100 million to $110 million figure he has cited on multiple occasions and drift into that range in-season with the inclusion of amateur signing bonuses (which generally you would not lump into the payroll category unless you're trying to inflate that figure and make it appear more palatable to fans.)