NEW YORK -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the team will be in position to offer a $100-million contract this offseason, but did say the squad could potentially have a smaller payroll than it did this year. The Mets are expected to have their most active free agency under Alderson this winter.
"Would it be the right player? And would it be prudent to do it, even for the right player? Factor in what's left to do the kind of things we want to do. But is it out of the question? It's not out of the question," Alderson said of a $100-million deal. "Will we do it? That's more of a strategic question than a resource question. At this point, it's not a matter of resources."
The Mets have not been very active in free agency under Alderson in his first three years as they have tried to get out from previous long-term contracts that didn't work out well.
Alderson's deals were always low-year, low-money deals, and even some of those haven't panned out. This year, they're finally getting some of those long-term deals off the books.
Alderson said excluding the money owed to former Met Jason Bay, the Mets payroll for this past season ended up around $87-88 million. He said the Mets have approximately $40 million coming off the books this winter, and they have just $25 million committed next season before arbitration raises. Alderson said the Mets will have "a substantial amount of money" available.
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said the team has already discussed the budget, but said it will depend on how the trade and free agency markets shake out. The team is heading down to Florida for organizational meetings and will start developing different scenarios. He did add that Alderson and the team's front office staff have a number they're targeting.
While the Mets would like to be active in free agency, Alderson hedged against making a splash just for the sake of making one. He mentioned, not by name, last year's failed pursuit of center fielder Michael Bourn, who ultimately signed with Cleveland. He said it's conceivable the team would have a lower pay roll.
Alderson specifically said the team could use upgrades at the corner outfield spots and shortstop, and potential outfielders to choose from include Cincinnati's Shin-Soo Choo, Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and Texas' Nelson Cruz.
"The bottom line is yes, it's conceivable we won't sign a player," Alderson said. "But look, we have to be realistic about the marketplace, so I'm hopeful we'll get some things done."
Knowing that some of previous long-term deals hurt the squad for the past few years, Alderson said there is some hesitation about big-money deals because the team wants to maintain payroll flexibility moving forward.
"It's great to say, well, we have financial flexibility, and then blow it on players' deals that don't work out and put yourself right back in the same situation you were in before," Alderson said. "At the same time, at some point, you’ve got to go for it. Having flexibility is great, but at some point, you’ve got to put yourself on the line."