Is the math off on Mets estimated payroll numbers?

According to estimates from MLB Trade Rumors and Matt Schwarz, based on raises and arbitration totals, if the Mets fill their remaining eight roster spots with players making the league minimum, they will begin next season with a $96 million payroll.

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

It’s worth noting that Johan Santana has $5 million of his salary deferred, so that might actually reduce this number to $91 million. On the other hand, most teams also budget for buyouts and incentives, so who knows what impact that has on payroll and budget. The point is, while it’s fun to speculate, doing so to the penny is always going to be an inaccurate and difficult exercise, because we just don’t know the real details…

Also, we often focus on ‘payroll,’ but this time of year the real debate should be around ‘budget,’ and, unfortunately, we also really get to know that real number. I’ve heard some insiders speculate that the budget is around $105 million for 2013, but that the Opening Day payroll can end up around $100 million (I guess leaving money for mid-season acquisitions, or maybe buyouts, incentives, etc.). I’ve seen others report no budget, but a total estimated payroll of $95 million. Sandy Alderson had said in public that next year’s payroll will be around $100 million, but does that mean on Opening Day or at the end of the year? And, does his $100 million include buyouts, deferred payments, etc.?

In the end, despite the specific figures, multiple reports and sources suggest the Mets can spend around $5 to $10 million on new acquisitions this winter – after picking up David Wright’s and RA Dickey’s options. I don’t know how that number is determined, but I’m going with it since I’ve heard it and read it in more than one place. Of course, if they trade a Jon Niese, or reduce Wright’s 2013 salary by way of his long-term extension, or trade Dickey and his $5.5 million, that could slightly adjust that number I suppose.

The point is, my advice is to not get super bogged down in the specific numbers. In either case, we’re splitting hairs, because we’re talking about a million here and a million here, maybe more, maybe less, and we’re talking about the difference between a $100 million payroll and $140 million, which is what I think most Mets fans wish this team was spending.