The New York Mets do not have significant payroll committed towards the future, which could lead to a pursuit of Manny Machado in 2019.
It’s time for Fred and Jeff Wilpon to open the checkbook and prove that the Bernie Madoff disaster is finally behind them. After not having a payroll in the top ten since 2011, the New York Mets are finally going to prove to us that they have the financial flexibility of a big market club and pursue one of the game’s best players in Manny Machado when comes the winter of 2019.
Or is it?
Far too often the Mets have let frugality dominate their spending habits. General Manager Sandy Alderson has had to carefully balance the team’s checkbook to appease his bosses and put together a contending club. While the largest contract he’s given out was the 4 year, $110 million pact given to Yoenis Cespedes last winter, the 2018-19 free agent class appears to be one of the most star-studded classes in recent memory.
Given that the Mets just saved nearly $10 million dollars between the trades of Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed, the team should have financial flexibility moving forward. Curtis Granderson‘s $15 million salary will be of the books after the season and Asdrubal Cabrera‘s cheap $2 million buyout could be exercised, too.
The coming winter could very well dictate how the Mets plan for the future. While the club has holes at third base and center field, they do have inexpensive internal options they could deploy instead. Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo could theoretically platoon in center, while Wilmer Flores and T.J. Rivera could see significant time at the hot corner. Second base is still somewhat of a mystery also with Gavin Checchini and Matt Reynolds both still potentially in the mix. The bullpen will also be in need of upgrades, but Sandy Alderson does not have a history of pursuing high profile relief arms.
Alderson also doesn’t have much of a history of handing out mammoth free agent contracts, but his philosophy could change two winters from now. Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Machado, Dallas Keuchel and of course, Matt Harvey, will be some of the names that headline the 2018-19 free agent class. If the Mets payroll remains relatively low by then, there’s a chance that a pursuit of Machado is actually realistic.
He’ll only be 26 when he enters the 2019 season. It’s possible he’ll be looking at a contract that could rival Giancarlo Stanton‘s monstrous pact with Miami. It’s a daunting ask for a front office and ownership group that has shown an unwillingness to commit to similar type of deals. These type of contracts over the long haul generally don’t work out, but Machado might be good enough–and young enough–where it makes sense.
As long as David Wright continues to spend time on the 60-day disabled list, the Mets will continue to recoup 75% of his salary. The Mets do not possess any third basemen in the minor leagues that feature as long term assets, thus making Machado’s potential presence in Queens plausible, at least from a personnel standpoint.
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The New York Mets, regardless of where payroll stands, may never pursue a player like Machado, Harper, etc. solely based on the financial aspect of the contracts they will warrant.
However, if they want to prove that their days of financial irregularity are behind them, landing a superstar of Machado’s caliber would silence a long list of critics.