GM: 2014 payroll at least $87M

NEW YORK -- Sandy Alderson said he uses the figure $87 million for the 2013 payroll. He added Tuesday that he believes the figure will be at least at that level in 2014.

"I don't think our payroll will be below what we saw last year," Alderson said. "As far as where it will finally land, let's defer that question until all precincts have reported."

ESPNNewYork.com has used the figure $95 million for 2013, and has reported the payroll is likely to slightly go down -- to the $85 million to $90 million range.

The current major expenses on the books are David Wright at $20 million and Jonathon Niese at $5 million for 2014. Although one or more of these players are likely to get traded, Daniel Murphy is estimated to earn $5.1 million through the arbitration process, with Ike Davis netting $3.8 million, Bobby Parnell $3.8 million and Dillon Gee $3.6 million.

As for Mets spending this offseason, Alderson essentially said the Mets view the prices as steep. But if the Mets want to land someone, they're just going to have to bid at that irrational level.

"We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable," Alderson said. "If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that. And consistent with that acknowledgement, if we're going to participate, we have to recognize that. It may not be manifest yet to the average fan, the average person, but I think we are more active than we were last year.

"I do think there will be a combination of more proactivity internally as well as a willingness in some instances to wait and see not whether the market changes, but what's available to us later. Inevitably there will be people available later. A couple of our best signings last year were players who were available later -- Marlon Byrd and LaTroy [Hawkins]."

Alderson said most of the early market activity has centered on middle-tier free agents -- not that there are a ton of high-end free agents anyway, according to the GM.

"Where the inflation is currently reflected is in that middle tier," Alderson said.

Alderson added that the signings currently taking place, including Tim Hudson and Hawkins this week among others, was predictable.

"I'm not surprised that we're starting to see some more activity," Alderson said. "We're certainly busier than we were the week before -- both in making calls and receiving calls. And that's true of free agents as well as other clubs."

Will the Mets announce something tangible in the next several days?

"I can't really predict what may happen," Alderson said. "The worst thing I can do is predict that something will happen and nothing does happen."