Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he was not told by ownership to slash payroll during this season, he said Wednesday at Citi Field.
In the last two weeks, Alderson saved $11.6 million in 2017 salary by trading veterans Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, and Neil Walker -- all of whom are eligible for free agency after this season. At the same time, he added $2.3 million by acquiring RHP AJ Ramos, who is under contract in 2018.
According to Alderson, he spent more money than ownership expected this past offseason, so he felt compelled to shed some of that payroll as the team fell further and further out of playoff contention.
The Mets began this season with a payroll of $154.4 million, which was their largest total since Alderson took over as GM in 2010.
Aug. 16, 2017: Alderson and Terry Collins talk in the dugout at Citi Field. Credit: USA Today Sports
"I can tell you from an operational standpoint, I look at it this way, if I persuade the owner that it's best to spend an extra 10-to-15 million dollars to go for it, but I also assure him that if it doesn't work out I can move 9 or 10 or 12 million dollars, having actually done it gives me a better case going forward," Alderson explained about his decision to reduce spending.
The Mets did not absorb a portion of any of the remaining salary owed to Duda, Reed, or Bruce, but did absorb some of the remainder of Walker's salary.
Additionally, while the Mets did not kick in any money when trading Reed to the Red Sox, it was reported that Boston insisted on paying the entire salary instead of sending the Mets what they considered to be a better prospect in the deal.
According to SNY contributor Adam Rubin, the Mets have roughly $87 million committed to 2018 when considering pay increases via arbitration for Jeurys Familia, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Wilmer Flores, and others.
Matthew Cerrone (Twitter | Instagram | About Me): I'm buying this. I think it's a good strategy. Of course, it's not my money. But, if it was, I'd appreciate the good faith coming from Alderson, who is probably going to ask for additional money to spend this winter. And, he's right, by paying some of that money back from last winter, I'm more likely to let him do it again...
That said, whether you call it a 'salary dump,' or 'smart trade,' it doesn't change the reality in the marketplace, which is that no team was scrambling to get their hands on Bruce, Duda, and Walker. They're also not banging down Sandy's door to get Asdrubal Cabrera and Curtis Granderson, both of whom could get moved as early as this weekend.
Aug 12, 2017; Bruce (32) hits a RBI single at Tropicana Field. Credit: Klement-USA TODAY Sports
In the case of Bruce, which is who most people seem to be upset about getting dealt, the Indians were literally the only team left besides the Yankees who were asking about him when the deal went down. So, once Alderson decided he wanted no part of risking Bruce might accept a $20 million qualifying offer for next season, it made perfect sense to trade him now and get something -- anything -- for him. And so he did.
And, if the Indians only want to deal a low-level arm because they're able to pay Bruce's salary, what is Alderson supposed to do? If it's literally the best and only deal available, and Alderson is committed to trading the player, is it still a salary dump? Or, is it the best available option? Or, is it both? And if it, so what? What's the difference?
Personally, because the talent level he's been dealing isn't great, I'm simply happy Alderson has been able to get anything that might help in the future. And, frankly, I don't expect any of these acquired prospects to pan out, because that is the nature of prospects and baseball. Of course, if one does pan out, great, that specific trade will be looked back and we'll cheer. If no one pans out, but Alderson spends money this winter and the Mets win 2018, no one will remember who or for what was traded this current summer and how much money the Mets did or didn't save.
It's all about building and winning and if what Alderson is doing now -- for whatever reason he's doing it -- helps the Mets get this bus back on the road and win again next season, I'm for it.