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Auditing Wilpon's payroll computation

1/23/2011

Jeff Wilpon's suggestion the Mets' payroll likely will end up in the $145 million-plus range appears to have merit. But let's take a closer look ...

First, here's a list of 18 major salary commitments for the upcoming season:

Johan Santana: $22,500,000

Carlos Beltran: $18,500,000

Jason Bay: $16,000,000

David Wright: $14,000,000

Oliver Perez: $12,000,000

Francisco Rodriguez: $11,500,000

Jose Reyes: $11,000,000

Luis Castillo: $6,000,000

R.A. Dickey: $4,025,000

Mike Pelfrey: $3,9250,000

Angel Pagan: $3,631,250

Ryota Igarashi: $1,750,000

Chris Capuano: $1,500,000

Ronny Paulino: $1,350,000

D.J. Carrasco: $1,200,000

Chris Young: $1,100,000

Scott Hairston: $1,100,000

Taylor Buchholz: $600,000

(In the case of Dickey and Pagan, we're using the midpoint of their arbitration request and the team's offer.)

That totals $131,681,250.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

First of all, of the 18 players listed there, there's a solid chance Perez, Castillo and Igarashi are not actually on the roster. And that means the Mets are going to have to pay 10 other players at the major league rate just to field a team.

Take a rough estimate of their salaries -- $500,000 apiece -- and that adds another $5 million to the total obligation. (Willie Harris and Taylor Tankersley or Tim Byrdak would be slighly more, Josh Thole and Ike Davis slightly less, but the 10 players likely average about that figure.)

So now you're at roughly $136,681,250.

Of course, it's too confusing to go over every bonus, but several players can make significantly more if they give a full season's worth of output. Remember, Young can earn an extra $3.4 million in incentives and Capuano can earn an additional $3 million in incentives. Buchholz gets another $400,000 alone just for making the roster. Pelfrey has $50,000 in incentives, too.

Do those bonuses all max out and bring the total to $145 million? Probably not.

But remember this, too: If K-Rod does not finish 55 games and his $17.5 million contract does not vest for 2012, he's due a $3.5 million buyout that would be charged to 2011.

And any time a player lands on the DL, someone else needs to be called up. No team is just paying 25 major league salaries for the season.

Of course, some money -- say for Beltran -- is deferred to future years with interest. But if you're going to start deducting that amount, then you have to start adding previous years' deferrals to now. (One of those is Bobby Bonilla, if you recall, who this year begins collecting $1.19 million annually from the Mets for 25 years.)

So is Wilpon's figure precise? No.

Is it disingenous? No, as well.