In the midst of what could very well be the largest single off-season payroll reduction in MLB history, the Mets seem poised to enter the year with payroll in the low $90 millions. Despite their obvious needs for left handed bats and starting pitching depth, the Mets appear ready to stay the course, unwilling to issue even minor league contracts at this point. If the purse strings are that short, will the Mets look to shed even more money in the not so distant future?
As it stands today, Johan Santana ($24M), Jason Bay ($16M) and David Wright ($15M) account for roughly 60% of the team's payroll this upcoming season. Each of them remain under team control through the 2013 season, but what happens then? Could the team shed another $50 million in just two years time, even without the aid of a trade?
High profile players wouldn't be the only ones on the proverbial chopping block. With the maturation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and the other young arms in the Mets farm system, the team may opt for their league minimum salaries versus the likes of the almost $6 million Mike Pelfrey and the almost $4 million RA Dickey would potentially earn in the coming years.
I'm not saying that all of these players are headed out of town and the Mets would undoubtedly have to replace anybody they do cut ties with, but it's clear that the franchise is still not financially settled and there is obviously money to be saved on the current roster. Replacing current players with homegrown talent, when combined with a hesitation to give out long term contracts certainly seems like a money saving recipe to me.
Will the payroll settle at $70 million or could it fall further? The pieces certainly appear in place for such a scenario whether Mets fans like it or not. As a result, low budget baseball could be here to stay for the foreseeable future.