Sunday, March 17, 2013
How the Mets could gain ground
By Jason A. Churchill
With word Wednesday from New York Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon that the club's payroll can now get back to the levels it sat prior to the organization's dealings with a lawsuit stemming from the Bernie Madoff situation. The club spent between $125 million and $150 million on payroll four straight years, starting in 2008. In 2011 they doled out more than $140 million to players on the 40-man roster, a number that dipped by nearly $50 million for the 2012 campaign. Wilpon says all that is behind them now, and GM Sandy Alderson can proceed as he wishes.
Alderson has played it smart thus far, trading away veteran Carlos Beltran and letting shortstop Jose Reyes walk via free agency. He also traded R.A. Dickey this offseason. The result is more financial flexibility and a nice collection of young talent. The room to spend, however, could put them in the market for potential 2013-14 free agents such as centerfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson, corner outfielders Hunter Pence and Shin-Soo Choo, and perhaps even left-hander David Price or right-hander Matt Garza.
The Mets will also have the opportunity to scale $20 million more off the books for 2014 by buying out the final year of Johan Santana's contract for $5.5 million, rather than paying him $25.5 million. Santana can flip that option into his control by throwing 215 innings or more in 2013, but that's far from a sure thing. Either way, the Mets could truly become another tyrant in the market for the game's best players, right there with the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, Phillies, Nationals and Dodgers.