Sandy discusses free agents, payroll flexibility, Josh Thole

This afternoon at the GM Meetings, Sandy Alderson spoke with reporters and, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, said they need to be realistic about the kinds of players they can acquire this winter, and suggested they could be looking at the “bottom” of the free agent market.

Alderson also said while they have a little more payroll flexibility than he originally projected, although it’s unrealistic for the payroll to escalate towards the levels of prior years.

“[Alderson] chuckled when I asked if the Mets’ payroll would go back to $140 million,” Puma said.


Lastly, Alderson also said they will likely be keeping Josh Thole, as it’s hard enough to find one catcher, let alone two.

Thole earned $498,000 in 2012, but is “Super Two” eligible this winter, meaning he will go to arbitration for the first time.

A player is classified as a “Super Two” and is eligible for salary arbitration who has at least two but less than three years of Major League service if he has at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season, and he ranks in the top 22 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated.

The cutoff this year is two years and 139 days of Major League service time.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Updated from Oct. 23: The catching options which can be acquired right now aren’t particularly appealing, and never really are for the most part. Catching is such a premium in this league and teams recognize that. One of the reasons for this is if a given catcher can hit, he’s often moved from the position while in the Minor Leagues in an effort to preserve him and keep him from breaking down quicker as he gets older. So if a team actually possesses catching talent in the big leagues, they tend to lock him up over the long-term, buying out his first few years of free agency, and rolling the dice on him sustaining success and not getting hurt.

As far as Thole goes, in terms of dollars, the figure he’ll earn through arbitration is still a pretty team-friendly figure for a secondary catcher. As such, I expected the Mets would choose to retain Thole, especially if the Mets retain R.A. Dickey for 2013. Dickey has touted Thole’s ability to catch the knuckleball, and gave Thole much of the credit for his phenomenal year after the season ended. Thole does add value from that standpoint – he knows Dickey, has more experience catching Dickey than anyone else in the league and, despite the high passed ball total (most catchers who are responsible for catching knuckleballers lead the league in passed balls), Thole has learned to handle the knuckleball over the last three years or so.