Mets 'require' higher payroll to compete

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bobby Bonilla was at Mets camp on Thursday as part of a Players’ Association contingent meeting with current players. As crazy as it sounds, Bonilla’s $1.2 million annual payment from the Mets as part of his deferred compensation is more than any outfielder currently on the roster will earn in 2013.

“I’ve heard that one,” union chief Michael Weiner lightheartedly said.

Adam Rubin

Michael Weiner speaks at Mets camp on Thursday.

Weiner, an advocate for the players, believes the Mets need to up their payroll.

If you count the entire buyout to Jason Bay in ’13, the Mets’ payroll figure roughly would be about $95 million.

“Look, a New York franchise in the National League is one of the flagship franchises in baseball,” Weiner told media after addressing the players at Mets camp. “Everybody would like to see the Mets as a competitive team. And it’s going to require a higher payroll. I trust that the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson, John Ricco, all of those people, will end up putting together a competitive team shortly.”

Did David Wright’s eight-year, $138 million contract allay some concerns?

"David is the face of the New York Mets,” Weiner said. “And David made a decision. ... David understood that if he went out to market, he’d probably make more money, and perhaps substantially more money. Yes, I think it’s a good thing from a competitive basis that David is an anchor of the New York Mets for the future. But I also think it shows the Basic Agreement working the way it’s supposed to work that David made that choice.”

As for the sticky Michael Bourn/draft-compensation issue, Weiner said he believes the union was in the right and the Mets should have prevailed in trying to protect the 11th overall pick in the draft from being forfeiting had the team signed Bourn.

The Mets were bounced from the top 10 because Pittsburgh was awarded a compensation pick for failing to sign its 2012 first-rounder. Bourn ultimately signed with the Cleveland Indians for four years, $48 million, with a fifth-year option.

“I think we did have a sound case, and that’s an issue we may address going forward,” Weiner said. “I think the intention of that agreement was to have the teams with the 10 lowest-finishing records in the immediately preceding season have their first-round picks protected. … That is something that we’ll talk about with the commissioner’s office. If we have to litigate it, we can litigate that issue even though the Bourn issue is gone. We can still go to the arbitrator during the time of the regular season and get an answer on that.”

Weiner went on to say that the draft-pick compensation issue is something the union would like to see further relaxed. The new system called for a free agent to have draft-pick compensation attached to him only if his former team made a $13.3 million qualifying offer for one season.