To date, the New York Mets have been one of the most active teams this offseason. They acquired Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in a blockbuster trade with the Mariners, re-signed Jeurys Familia, signed Wilson Ramos to a sensible two-year contract, and added depth in Keon Broxton and J.D. Davis. Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco were signed to minor league deals as well.
The Mets went 77-85 last season and new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has definitely been active adding to his roster. Is it enough to push New York into postseason position? We'll see. Either way, it sounds like Van Wagenen is done making major additions. Reports indicate the Mets are running out of money to spend this offseason.
Indications are the Mets will wait out the market and see if anything makes sense for bullpen. Unclear how much Brodie Van Wagenen has left to spend this offseason, but it isn’t a lot.— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 7, 2019
After making all those moves, it makes sense that the Mets would be running low on funds, right? They've been quite busy. Here's the thing though: New York's current payroll is lower than it was last season. For real.
The Mets have opened the last two seasons with a payroll in the $150 million range and, after accounting for injury call-ups and midseason additions, they finished with a $160.3 million payroll last season, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. That was the 13th highest end-of-season payroll in baseball. The Mets have run a middle of pack payroll despite playing in New York for several years now.
At the moment the Mets have a $147.8 million payroll for 2019, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Baseball-Reference.com has a $136.3 million payroll, though the two sites use different estimates for unsigned players in their pre-arbitration years, and Baseball-Reference.com doesn't include David Wright's $15 million salary in their estimate. .
Point is, the Mets do not have a significantly higher payroll than last season, if it's higher at all. Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak were included in the Cano/Diaz trade to offset salary, Jerry Blevins and Wilmer Flores (non-tendered) are free agents, and partial season salaries for Matt Harvey, Devin Mesoraco, and Asdrubal Cabrera are off the books as well. All of that dragged the payroll down despite this winter's additions.
So, long story short, the Mets made several splashy moves this winter and talked the talk about spending after hiring Van Wagenen, yet payroll has not increased from last season. They're still a huge market team with a mid-market payroll that fancies themselves contenders. And hey, they might contend, but it's clear a little more money would boost the roster. For example free agents A.J. Pollock and Adam Ottavino would look nice in center field and the bullpen, respectively.
The Mets and Wilpons have not earned the benefit of the doubt. Payroll has not budged as league revenues skyrocket, and while Van Wagenen has made some nice moves this offseason (the Ramos signing in particular stands out), it's clear he's working with similar restrictions as his predecessor Sandy Alderson. For the Mets to be taken seriously as a true contender, they have to act like one, and that means investing in the roster. Otherwise they're the same old Mets in new packaging.