The New York Mets began the 2015 season with an Opening Day payroll of $101.4 million, ranked 21st in the entire league. The year ended with a World Series berth thanks to the three young, incredibly cheap arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. A trade for Yoenis Cespedes didn’t hurt either, but the slugging outfielder is on his way out the door, as his Daniel Murphy and his $8 million salary. The young aces will see marginal salary bumps in 2016, but nothing substantial, as only Harvey is arbitration eligible. Even with a stellar, healthy 2015 campaign behind him, Harvey is still going to earn less than $5 million in 2016.
Although the Mets still have some financial restrictions due to the ongoing financial struggles related to the Bernie Madoff scandal, the payroll is inching up. Since the Mets slashed payroll from $142.8 million in 2011 to $94.5 million in 2012, the team has gradually been increasing the amount of money it spends for personnel. With only $60.1 million committed to the 2016 roster, the Mets should be able to open their checkbooks slightly this winter. Another $21.6 million in bad money comes off the books after next season, when Michael Cuddyer‘s deal runs out, and Jon Niese‘s option can be declined. Coming off a very successful season, and a few years away from really having to pay their trio (or quintet if you are willing to include Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler), the Mets should look to get more involved in the free-agent market this year than they have in years past. The Mets know exactly what their needs are this offseason — the bullpen and the outfield. Not many teams are so set with their rotation that they can zero in on two easily addressable areas of need.
Keeping the thought in mind that the Mets are not working with an unlimited budget, here are seven realistic targets for the Amazins to target this winter.