Budget is $25-30M, sticker shock and the discounted trade market

download (1)8:00 pm: The team’s ownership will not let Sandy Alderson exceed his $25-30 million off-season budget (Harper).

8:57 am: The Mets have found the asking prices for some free agents quite “surprising,” according to two team sources (Ackert).

For instance, the team believed free-agent SS Jhonny Peralta could be had with a two-year, $20-25 million deal, but he is instead seeking at least a three-year contract worth more than $45 million (Puma).

Nevertheless, they remain interested in Peralta and have maintained interest in outfielders Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson (Ackert).

In other words, the Mets are suffering a severe case of “sticker shock,” according to a source with knowledge of the front office’s thinking (Puma), “bringing into question whether general manager Sandy Alderson’s offseason plan still has legs.”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

9:00 am: I continue to hear from people in baseball that Alderson is looking to be creative, mix things up and add at least two or three new bats to his lineup. This, plus all the talk about ‘sticker shock,’ and ‘scary prices,’ has me wondering if he’ll soon turn to the discounted, damaged-goods aisle in the trade market as opposed to paying premium prices for overvalued free agents…

Alderson said this week that his 2014 payroll will be more than last year’s $87 million (Carig). It is estimated Alderson has roughly $30 million to spend this offseason (Ackert).

The trade sending Prince Fielder from Detroit to Texas, with $30 million to cover part of his contract, is an example of how every contract is movable, so long as you pack the deal with the right players. The market is such that, if the Mets were to part with a better prospect, a team may be willing to pay a portion of their player’s inflated contract, which might lower the new player’s annual salary in to Alderson’s range.

This may not return the best-possible, individual talent. However, it’s a strategy that would likely deliver the most players, make news and have the potential to net the biggest bang for his limited bucks.