Burning Questions: What's 2015 payroll?

NEW YORK -- Sandy Alderson spent last week engrossed in budget meetings. And while the Opening Day payroll likely will not please many Mets fans, the team's expenditure in 2015 certainly should increase from its level this past season.

The bottom line: It basically has to rise from this past season's figure, which was about $85 million.

Even with Chris Young's $7.25 million coming off the books (less the prorated portion of the major league minimum the Yankees paid him for September), the Mets' payroll will jump $10 million or more before any action is taken.

Three players get raises through their contracts:

Curtis Granderson: $3 million, to $16 million

Bartolo Colon: $2 million, to $11 million

Jonathon Niese: $2 million, to $7 million

Then there are several players who are eligible for arbitration: Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee, Bobby Parnell, Eric Young Jr., Ruben Tejada and Anthony Recker.

The substantial raises will go to Murphy, Duda and Mejia.

ESPN in late October again plans to team with law students from Pace University for a thorough analysis of the raises due to the arbitration-eligible players. Suffice it to say, though, salaries almost never go down for arbitration-eligible players. And while it’s conceivable E.Y. Jr. or Tejada gets non-tendered depending upon other activity, neither player’s salary was overly sizable anyway. E.Y. Jr. made $1.85 million in 2014. Tejada made $1.1 million.

Murphy’s salary may go from $5.7 million this past season to $8 million or $9 million in his final season before free agency.

Duda, coming off a 30-homer campaign, should receive a significant spike from the $1.64 million he earned in 2014 as a Super 2. We’ll wait for the Pace analysis, but let’s just use the figure $5 million for now.

Mejia, coming off a season in which he recorded 28 saves, is eligible for arbitration for the first time. He made $509,675 in 2014. What will he make next year? Let’s use $2.5 million until we see the number the Pace team computes.

So, very roughly, those three players alone may receive combined raises of $9 million. With modest raises due the other players, let’s say the payroll jumps $10 million before anything is done this winter.

The Mets, seemingly unlike many other teams, appear to give their GM a floating payroll figure rather than a precise number. For instance, last offseason, the Mets privately insisted they offered Grant Balfour a number comparable to the two-year, $12 million deal that enticed him to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays. That unspent salary never was reinvested elsewhere by the Mets.

Of course, the Mets have far fewer holes this season than in the past. Nothing really needs to be done on the pitching side.

In fact, it’s conceivable the Mets address only two positions this offseason -- bringing in a corner outfielder and a shortstop. Let's say the shortstop is not yet eligible for arbitration and the corner outfielder is a Michael Cuddyer-type free agent. That would push the payroll just north of $100 million.

The more likely scenario, though, is the Mets offset acquisitions by trading Murphy and an established starting pitcher. So the payroll may reside in the mid- to upper-90s in 2015.

A team official insisted there was upward mobility in the payroll, while noting the organization is not prepared to return to the days of $130 million-plus payrolls just yet.


Guaranteed contracts

David Wright $20M

Curtis Granderson $16M

Bartolo Colon $11M

Jonathon Niese $7M

Subtotal: $54M

Arbitration-eligible players (rough estimates, including potential Super 2s)

Daniel Murphy $8.5M ($5.7M)

Lucas Duda $5M ($1.6375M)

Dillon Gee $4.5M ($3.625M)

Bobby Parnell $3.7M ($3.7M)

Jenrry Mejia $2.5M ($590,675)

Eric Young Jr. $1.95M ($1.85M)

Ruben Tejada $1.5M ($1.1M)

Anthony Recker $900k ($505,340)

Subtotal: $28.55M

That’s a total of 12 players making roughly $82.55 million.

There are 13 other players required to fill out a 25-man roster. Let’s say they all make close to the major league minimum in 2015, which will be adjusted upward modestly from this year’s $500,000 figure based on a cost of living calculation. That’s a total of at least $6.5 million.

Then, Mets officials previously have said another $4.5 million or so is always added into payroll estimates to account for things such as more than 25 players on the payroll at any given time (because of DL, etc.).

So let’s add $11 million to the $82.55 million.

So without any winter modifications other than letting expiring contracts lapse (like Chris Young's) means the Mets payroll would be about $93.55 million in 2015.