Breaking down the Mets budget and estimated payroll for 2013

Phil T in New York: “I keep reading that the Mets have just $5 to $10 million to spend this winter. How can that be? It seems like it should be more?”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I’m always reluctant to do this, because we just don’t know for fact what these numbers actually are… but, using old reports, coupled with what I hear when talking to insiders, and reading what others report today, here’s how I think this breaks down:

It reads like the Mets have $100 million budget for next season’s team, which would rank them among the top spending teams in the National League. The problem, however, is that once the Mets pick up David Wright’s and RA Dickey’s options, next year’s payroll will already be around $70 million since Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Jon Niese and Frank Francisco are already under contract.

Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy will be in store for raises, as they’re both eligible for salary arbitration, and both will almost certainly be back on the Mets in 2013. Together, they will likely total $6 million more towards next year’s payroll.

Bobby Parnell and Josh Thole are also eligible for arbitration, but their futures with the organization are less clear. If they are tendered deals, and asked to return, they’ll likely combine to earn $3 million through arbitration.

Similarly, Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee, Justin Turner, Matt Harvey and Josh Edgin will be paid the league minimum, which adds another $3 million.

In other words, all of the above 16 players (all of whom are likely to be back in 2013) combine to earn around $83 million, leaving $17 million or so in the estimated budget. Of course, the remaining nine roster spots (whomever they may be) will also earn a salary.

However, every team’s budget also factors in buyouts and incentive money. For instance, the Mets must allocate $8.5 million in buyout money for Santana and Bay. This brings the number available to spend on new talent down even further.

In short, when factoring in buyouts, incentives, young players due raises who you want back (such as Ike), as well as current contracts (like Johan and Bay), it is estimated the Mets have around $5 to $10 million in the budget to fill those remaining nine roster spots. Of course, if you assume those nine guys will earn at least the league minimum, it means Sandy Alderson probably has just $5 million extra dollars to improve on those spots.

He could, however, trade Dickey for prospects, which would free up $5 million. He could trade Niese, which would free up $3 million. They could non-tender Thole and Parnell, which would free up $3 million. They could bring down Wright’s 2013 salary by¬†deferring it through a longer-term extension. He has options and ways to move money around, but none of them are ideal.