2012 Contract Issues: New York Mets

The Mets are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (9)

  • Jose Reyes has spent his entire career with the Mets, and Beltran has been with them since the '05 season.  There seems little chance of either player being re-signed.  Both are playing well on the young season and should do well in free agency.  They're also midseason trade candidates, with Reyes expected to fetch more given his lower salary.  At $18.5MM, Beltran might be mostly a salary dump even if he's healthy and hitting.
  • Sandy Alderson imports Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen, Scott Hairston, and Willie Harris are up for free agency again, as well as Ryota Igarashi.  Several of the pitchers may be traded this summer if healthy and pitching decently.

Contract Options (1)

  • Francisco Rodriguez: $17.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout.  Guaranteed with 55 games finished.  K-Rod needs 47 more games finished to cause his option to vest.  It can be done; he finished 57 from May onward in 2009.  The Mets will either have to trade him to a team with an established closer or be very careful about his usage.

Arbitration Eligible (4)

Pelfrey has posted one good start in six tries this year.  A lousy platform year might hold down his arbitration raise, but he could still reach $6-7MM.  The Mets could consider trading or even non-tendering the 27-year-old righty.  Pagan has been brutal and Paulino has been out of the picture, though Buchholz has been a nice find.  For the sake of argument, I could see Pelfrey, Pagan, and Buchholz earning $14MM in total in 2012.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Mets' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $66.83MM, including Rodriguez's buyout.  If the Mets save $10MM+ by unloading Reyes, Beltran, and Rodriguez at the trade deadline, will that money go to next year's payroll?  Will Pelfrey be worth keeping around next year at $6-7MM?  Even if the Mets' financial problems result in a payroll drop to the $100MM range, Alderson should still have $20MM to play with.  A minority stake in the team could be sold by July, but Mets ownership will likely still be embroiled in a billion-dollar lawsuit when the 2011-12 offseason arrives.  When the Mets finally have a clean financial slate, there should be a lot of payroll space to work with.

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