steve cohen mets dead money
Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports

Recent events regarding the Mets have been tough to digest these days. Whether it was the trade-deadline sell-off or their winless road trip, the vibes are not immaculate at Citi Field right now.

But with a farm system that’s recently been injected with a bunch of top talent, we can hope brighter days are ahead (and not too far in the future). This unique sell-off from New York was only made possible by Steve Cohen’s unprecedented ability to absorb player salaries.

It’s easy for others to look at how much money the Mets sent away in trades and laugh about it. However, this is the benefit of having baseball’s richest owner. We knew he was willing to do what the Mets eventually did. After all, he told us back in June that the team’s payroll was already a “sunk cost” in his mind.

But still, it makes the Mets’ current payroll situation look kind of messy. Not counting the deferred salaries of Bobby Bonilla and Bret Saberhagen, New York is responsible for quite a few retained salaries for the remainder of this year (“dead money” as Cohen referred to it).

Spotrac defines this as salaries from players who have been traded or released, as well as buyouts for declined options. Essentially, this is what the Mets are on the hook for this year for players who no longer reside on their roster.

  • Max Scherzer: $43.3 million
  • Justin Verlander: $43.3 million
  • Robinson Cano: $20.25 million
  • James McCann: $11 million
  • Mark Canha: $10.260 million
  • Eduardo Escobar: $9.113 million
  • David Robertson: $6.5 million
  • Tommy Pham: $4.36 million
  • Chris Flexen: $3.87 million
  • Darin Ruf: $3.25 million
  • Tommy Hunter: $686K
  • Dominic Leone: $359K
  • Gary Sanchez: $81K
  • T.J. McFarland: $70K
  • Zach Muckenhirn: $23K

That’s … a lot of money. To further put it in perspective, New York’s active payroll for this year checks now in at $149.32 million. The total retained salaries accumulate to just shy of $157 million.

Again, this is something Cohen can easily absorb. If the Mets were actual contenders this year, that bill probably would’ve been higher because they would’ve bought at the deadline.

Since general manager Billy Eppler focused on trading away rentals and guys on short-term deals, lots of this money is coming off the books in October. As it currently stands, here are the Mets’ retained salaries for next year:

  • Max Scherzer: $20.833 million
  • Justin Verlander: $20.788 million
  • James McCann: $8 million

Once 2024 is complete, Scherzer and McCann come off the books. If Verlander’s 2025 option vests, they’ll be on the hook for $17.5 million.

As we can see, it’s not this dire situation that’ll drag down the organization for years. It’s just a blip on the radar for a guy who is worth billions. Current Dodgers ownership also did this in the mid-2010s when they took over.

This doesn’t take into consideration what New York might do over the winter. Maybe they trade more veteran players and eat more salary (Starling Marte? Jose Quintana? Omar Narvaez?). But either way, that retained salaries number won’t be as high as it currently is.

You can reach Matt Musico at You can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.