The Daily News had a quick-hit story this morning about the Mets' arbitration dealings — Mike Pelfrey, Andres Torres, Manny Acosta, and Ramon Ramirez will all be around next year, if you were worried — but it was one line at the end that struck us.
Here 'tis: With their offseason moves likely completed, the Mets will see their payroll shrink from about $140 million on 2011 to about $90 million in 2012.
We knew the Mets were lowering their payroll with Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, and company off the books — obviously — but we guess we just didn't realize it was going that low. The Mets dropped $50 million from the payroll in one off-season. That is difficult to do. They dropped more than the whole payroll of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City.
Of course, $90 million is still plenty high, even though the Mets haven't had a payroll that low since 2000. So can't they go lower? They sure can. Let's take a ride on the Cot's Baseball Contracts express, shall we?
After this year, they can buy out David Wright's contract for $1 million, or they can of course trade him. That's $14 million gone. R.A. Dickey is out after 2011, too; there's about $4 million more right there. Jon Rauch? $3.5 million. D.J. Carrasco, Ronny Cedeno, Scott Hairston, Manny Acosta: All a little more than $1 million, all free agents after this year. Slash, slash, slash! Replace them with minimum-salary, team-control guys, and you've got a savings of about $20 million next year.
But the real savings comes after 2013, when Johan Santana's $25.5 million — $25.5 million! — goes away (with a $5.5 million buyout). Cha-ching! The year after that, Jason Bay's $18.1 million (with a $3 million buyout) is done. And then it will all be cleared away. Just a couple years now, and the Mets will officially be completely picked to the bone. $50 million cuts aren't cool. You know what's cool? $80 million cuts.
Sandy Alderson will have to hang on one year later than that. He has no buyout clause. At this rate, we suspect he'll be pretty ready to go.