When Fred Wilpon floated a $100 million payroll in a magazine piece earlier this season, Sandy Alderson talked people off the ledge, suggesting it would go down from this year's $140 million or so, but a $40 million slashing sounded awfully drastic. Yet speaking with Triple-A Buffalo reporters on Wednesday, Alderson sounded like he was floating a reasonably comparable figure to the one Wilpon articulated months ago.
In response to a question about spending at a level comparable to the Yankees, Alderson said: "We can't spend at will the same way they can spend. And we're not going to attempt to try to do that, at least not over the next several years. Our revenues, basically we've got to get people back in the ballpark to generate the kind of revenues that would be needed to have an even larger payroll. But the fact is, even at $100 million or $110 million, we're still in the upper echelon of payrolls. That ought to allow us plenty of latitude."
Still, Alderson noted that level of payroll can be a challenge when the payroll is concentrated with a handful of players. In the Mets' case, Johan Santana will receive $24 million in 2012, David Wright is owed $15 million and Jason Bay $16 million. That's $55 million for three players before Jose Reyes is even re-signed.
"When you have $75 million of that tied up in four or five players, some of whom aren't playing, it's not a good situation to be in where you're trying to fill out the rest of the team and be competitive in a very difficult division," the GM said.
As for the offseason activity, Alderson said: "I think that we've got to be judicious about the free-agent market, especially over the next couple of years. I think with Carlos Beltran departing, with (Luis) Castillo, (Oliver) Perez ... we will have a considerable amount of money coming off payroll. But we still want to field a competitive team and we want to take a run at Jose Reyes.
"It's very difficult, unless you're one of a couple of teams, to have three, four guys making $15 million-plus. I don't care who you are -- again, with the exception maybe of a couple of teams. So I would expect we'll be looking actively in the free-agent market, but we've got to get it to a position where we can be active every year and not be hamstrung by existing contracts. Part of that is making good decisions in the first place. I mean, if you invest $15 million, you hope you're going to get $15 million worth of performance. We haven't always gotten that."