SATURDAY: Several readers have pointed out a major error in the original post. The Mets did not enter the '09 season at $149.4MM, but rather something closer to $139.6MM. Assuming a steady payroll, they would have $25-30MM to spend. They'll have to skimp on some of the needs listed, unless Omar Minaya can swing a clever trade or two.
THURSDAY: Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Mets. Their commitments for 2010:
C – Omir Santos – $400K
C – Josh Thole – $400K
1B – Daniel Murphy – $401K
2B – Luis Castillo – $6MM
SS – Jose Reyes – $9MM
3B – David Wright – $10MM
IF – Anderson Hernandez – $400K
LF – Angel Pagan – $575K+
CF – Carlos Beltran – $18.5MM
RF – Jeff Francoeur – $3.375MM+
OF – Cory Sullivan – $600K+
OF – Jeremy Reed – $925K+
1B/LF – Nick Evans – $403K or OF – Fernando Martinez – $400K
SP – Johan Santana – $21MM
SP – John Maine – $2.6MM+
SP – Mike Pelfrey – $1.3125MM
SP – Oliver Perez – $12MM
SP – Jon Niese – $400K
Other candidates: Fernando Nieve – $414K, Tim Redding – $2.25MM+
RP – Francisco Rodriguez – $11.5MM
RP – Pedro Feliciano – $1.6125MM+
RP – Sean Green – $471K+
RP – Pat Misch – $402K
RP – Bobby Parnell – $400K
RP – Brian Stokes – $410K
RP – Carlos Muniz – $402K
Other commitments: J.J. Putz – $1MM buyout
Non-tender candidates: Redding, Maine, Nelson Figueroa
That puts the Mets at about $105MM, plus arbitration raises to Pagan, Francoeur, Sullivan, Reed, Maine, Feliciano, Green, and Redding (some of whom will likely be non-tendered). The Mets are in the $110MM ballpark after entering the '09 season with a $149.4MM payroll. Omar Minaya should have $35-40MM to patch his team's many holes.
The Mets have a strong core of superstars, and their collective health almost has to improve in 2010. I don't see the logic behind trading Reyes, Wright, Beltran, or Santana.
The Mets need a catcher, first baseman, and corner outfielder. They may be competing with the Braves for certain first base and left field candidates. But the Mets also need at least one solid starting pitcher as well as bullpen help.
The catching market is weak, but pairing someone like Gregg Zaun with Thole makes sense. First base presents more options. Who's a bigger health risk – Carlos Delgado at 38 or Nick Johnson at 31? Johnson's .428 OBP is hard to ignore.
The market is flush with left fielders. With so many needs, I have a hard time seeing Minaya take a run at Manny Ramirez, Matt Holliday, or Jason Bay. Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, and Jermaine Dye are more reasonable targets. With Castillo, Johnson, Wright, Beltran, and Abreu, the Mets would potentially have five .400 OBP players. Zaun (assuming the Rays let him go), Johnson, and Abreu could be signed for less than $25MM in 2010 salaries.
With the remaining money I'd attempt to lure Randy Wolf from the West Coast while also pursuing Erik Bedard, Brad Penny, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, or Ben Sheets for a one-year deal. Admittedly there wouldn't be much left to spend on relievers, but decent arms can be found for a million or two.
Certainly the Mets could use top free agents like Holliday and John Lackey. However, the available money would be better used to acquire four or five sensible free agents. Let's hear your recommendations in the comments.