Let's quantify how thrifty the Mets have been this offseason:
The free agent contracts of D.J. Carrasco, Chris Capuano, Ronny Paulino, Taylor Buchholz, Chris Young, and Scott Hairston have a combined guaranteed value of $8.1 million.
Even if Young, Capuano, and Hairston hit all the incentive clauses in their deals (by which they would receive a combined $6.8 million), and Willie Harris and Tim Byrdak each spend the entire seasons in the major leagues, the total potential payout for these deals will be far less than $20 million.
This will be the lowest potential payout that the Mets have put forth to free agents in an offseason since committing to only $8.6 million in potential payouts in the 1997-98 offseason.
Since that one, the Mets have made at least one big free agent signing every offseason. From the 1998-99 offseason to the 2009-10 offseason, they signed players to contracts guaranteeing them nearly $800 million, whether it be from the Mets or another team to which they were later dealt (in some cases, for another big contract).
This year will end a streak of 12 straight offseasons in which the Mets signed at least one free agent to a contract with a total value of at least $10 million.
It should be noted that one of the reasons for that trend ending is that none of the last four of those deals, given to Luis Castillo (4 years, $25 million), Oliver Perez (3 years, $36 million), Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, $37 million) and Jason Bay (4 years, $66 million, has worked out the way the Mets would have liked.
The Mets were able to recoup a small portion of Rodriguez's contract by suspending him at the end of last season and Bay still has three years left to earn his money, but these deals are the ones that have prevented the Mets from similar spending sprees this winter.
The Mets presently rank 23rd among the 30 teams in terms of money guaranteed to free agents this offseason, the lowest they've ranked since the 1996-97 offseason. That year, they didn't sign any free agents to guaranteed major league deals.
How little have the Mets spent? Let's offer up one last tidbit:
Consider that even the always frugal, small-market Pirates have outdone the Mets this offseason.
Over the previous four offseasons, the Mets had signed players to contracts worth upwards of $238.5 million in guaranteed money. Pittsburgh's free agent contracts had a total guaranteed value at the time of just over $20 million.
But this offseason, the Pirates have signed players to deals worth $17.75 million, more than twice what the Mets currently are in position to shell out. Even if all of their free agents max out the value of their deals, the Mets spending will basically be a match for that of baseball's thriftiest team.
LARGEST FREE AGENT SIGNINGS BY METS
LAST 13 OFFSEASONS
Contracts listed are the largest for each season, based on total value at time of the signing.