NEW YORK -- When the Mets report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., two and a half months from now, their clubhouse will be stocked with familiar faces.
The team on Wednesday tendered contracts to all eight of their arbitration-eligible players, including notable non-tender candidates Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada and Addison Reed. Those three and five others will exchange salary figures and attempt to negotiate new one-year deals with the Mets. If they can't, they will have their salaries determined by an independent arbiter.
Projections from MLB Trade Rumors and an ESPN New York study indicate that tendering all eight of their arbitration-eligible players will cost the Mets roughly $27 million. Tack on $60 million worth of guaranteed contracts for David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Jon Niese, Michael Cuddyer and Juan Lagares, plus at least another $6 million in near-minimum salaries for pre-arbitration players, and the Mets are staring at an effective payroll of around $93 million. Signing Ben Zobrist, their primary free-agent target, could push that figure upwards.
That could become an issue for a Mets team that has shown no indication of raising payroll significantly above the roughly $100 million it spent last season. But non-tendering Mejia or Tejada would not have saved them much money; the most expensive arbitration contracts will go to Duda, Harvey, Familia and Reed, whom MLB Trade Rumors and ESPN project to make over $20 million combined.
Tejada, 26, has been in the organization over a decade, and became something of a cult hero after breaking his leg on a Chase Utley slide during the National League Division Series. Though Tejada submitted one of his better seasons to date in 2015, posting a .261 average and .688 OPS in 116 games while starting regularly over Wilmer Flores, he figures to slide back into a utility role next summer. Tejada's presence will allow the Mets to bring middle-infield prospects Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds along slowly if need be.
Mejia, 26, was an obvious tender if off-the-field issues are ignored. But his two performance-enhancing-drug suspensions cast doubt over the Mets' willingness to give Mejia a new contract, despite the fact that they will only wind up paying a maximum of around 40 percent of his salary. Mejia, a former top prospect who was unscored upon in seven appearances between suspensions this summer, will not be eligible to pitch until late July.
The Mets' final non-tender candidate was Reed, who posted a 1.17 ERA in 17 games after coming to Queens in an August trade, but who made $4.875 million this season. He will serve as an expensive setup man for a Mets team that deemed him worth the price.
Harvey, Familia, Torres and Edgin are all arbitration-eligible for the first time, and thus will be due for significant raises over this year's near-minimum salaries. The other four have been through this process before.