Look, no one has any idea what the payroll is going to be. Sandy Alderson has clearly stated they haven’t finalized numbers yet, and that he’s prepared for a number of different options.
It’s Sandy Alderson’s third year, and he’s going to start feeling some pressure to not just point this team in the right direction, but actually get them to take a step or two. The Wilpons have always seemed willing to invest in a plan that makes the Mets better. They haven’t exactly shied away from spending money in the past, and the recent drop was in part due to plummeting revenues as well as financial messes. These last couple of years are obvious exceptions to the willingness to spend money, but they DID invest more money by buying minority shares. This was always the plan, and it stands to reason that if needed the Wilpons could manage at least a slightly higher payroll if need be. Maybe that’s not the case, but it’s really impossible to say as we’re not privy to that information.
Combine those two and I suspect Sandy Alderson will pitch a plan with a slightly higher payroll, depending on if he can acquire the pieces he’s targeting, and that the Wilpons will approve that. Alderson will be selling it as a probable way to make the Mets better, which will also increase revenue if it works out. This isn’t to say the Mets payroll definitely increases; If the players Alderson wants that would increase payroll are not available, for any number of reasons, he’s not obligated to raise the payroll just because he has the green light. Which is part of the reason he’s not going to tell us what the target numbers are. (Another part being it hurts his negotiating position with free agents if they know exactly how much money he has to spend)
It actually makes sense to spend a little in 2013. Barring Johan Santana returning to Cy Young form, or Jason Bay making a run at the MVP, both players come off the books after next seasons freeing up a lot of money. It’s probably reckless to spend it all at once, and there’s no guarantee that there will be enough quality players the Mets need to acquire available to spend it. Spend a little bit above budget in 2013 with the expectation that it’ll come down again in 2014 with all the money coming off the payroll. While the Mets have a lot of money owed next year, they’ve got virtually none of it committed to future years. Spending a little this off season is not going to create a logjam of contracts or leave the Mets unable to get out from under a pile of unproductive players.
The Mets need to get better, and Sandy Alderson has suggested that the roster won’t look the same regardless of what the budget is. It’s probably more set than it seems. The infield and starting pitching look pretty good, and the bench is certainly passable with guys like Hairston and Baxter and even Turner and Cedeno. Whatever does happen with the budget, we can probably count on Sandy Alderson doing everything he can to make this team much better next year.