The New York Mets have payroll restrictions which will likely limit them from landing a high profile free agent this offseason.
The 2017 season was an easily forgettable one. The New York Mets endured a frustrating campaign filled with injuries, trades and managerial controversy. Thankfully, the bad dream known as 2017 is in the rearview and a productive offseason holds they keys to prominence next year. However, the Mets aren’t likely to land any king size free agents this winter.
The first and most obvious issue the Mets must address is their payroll, which is rumored to be as much as $20 million lower than last season. That kind of salary slash would put their payroll in the neighborhood of $135 million, which would have ranked 16th on opening day of last season. Yikes.
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A professional baseball franchise with a lucrative television deal and in prime position to attract advertisers should not have a payroll on the outskirts of the top half of the league. A high payroll doesn’t always equal success, evidenced by this past season’s Astros who were 18th in payroll at the start of last season, per CBS.
However, the fans of New York have come to expect better from an ownership group that is anchored in the world’s largest media market. Their financial limitations are a clear example of the monetary difficulties they still possess.
The payroll is the elephant in the room almost every winter for the team from Queens. However, that’s not the only obstacle the Mets would have to overcome to attain a major free agent. The issue of the qualifying offer makes their plans all the more calculated.
Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Greg Holland all have received the qualifying offer worth $17.4 million. Should the Mets decide to pursue any of these players, who all likely will decline their QO’s, the Mets will have to surrender high draft picks as compensation.
The Mets posses an already thin minor league system, having graduated their two best prospects in Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith. The loss of premium draft picks may be a price they simply cannot afford.
The New York Mets are a team that also must fill multiple holes this winter. After trading away several players with expiring contracts, the Mets can use at least one more infielder, especially one that can handle third base. The Mets also may need cover at first base in case Dominic Smith struggles–Wilmer Flores seems capable of doing both, but it’s clear the club likes him in a super utility role.
The Mets will also need to address their bullpen and add a starting pitcher who can provide innings at the back end of the rotation. An upgrade in center field is also a possibility, if the team has the funds or the creativity to address such a need. That’s quite the laundry list–one that likely involves multiple mid to lower level signings rather than one or two big names.
The Mets can still have a successful offseason but it likely won’t be because they broke the bank in free agency.