NEW YORK -- Analysis of the Mets' payroll tends to center on the dollar figure itself, a big-market team nestled near the middle of the league. But it is worth noting that the way in which the Mets are allocating that money is changing, and will continue to do so as their young starting rotation matures.
Nine Mets filed for arbitration earlier this week, four of whom exchanged salary figures with the club on Friday. The other five agreed to new non-guaranteed one-year deals, including starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who will make $4.325 million -- approximately seven times what he earned last season. Relievers Addison Reed, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin agreed to deals for $5.3 million, $1.05 million and $625,000, respectively, while infielder Ruben Tejada will make $3 million.
All told, the site MLB Trade Rumors projects that the Mets will spend $37.7 million on arbitration salaries this winter, eating up roughly a third of their payroll.
With only Neil Walker eligible to become a free agent from among that group after this season, that figure should continue to rise as the Mets' young pitchers continue to gain service time. Walker asked for $11.8 million in arbitration, while the Mets offered $9.4 million.
Jacob deGrom could become a Super Two arbitration-eligible player next winter, for example, priming himself for four consecutive handsome paydays. Noah Syndergaard almost certainly will become one two years from now. And as long as they stay healthy and successful, the salaries of Harvey, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia and others will continue to climb.
Players with three to six (and in some cases two to six) years of Major League service time are eligible for arbitration, a process that awards one-year contracts based on merit and past precedent. Teams and players exchanged desired salary figures Friday, and tend to use those as guidelines to draw up new deals. If they cannot come to agreements, they argue their cases in front of an independent arbiter, who sides with either the team or the player. There is no middle ground in such cases.
Duda currently boasts the most service time of the bunch and projects to earn the highest salary because of it. He gave the Mets a second consecutive strong season at first base last season, hitting 27 home runs with an .838 OPS, and is under team control for two more seasons. Duda is asking for $7.4 million in arbitration, while the Mets countered with $5.9 million.
Harvey, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time, has already made significantly more through that process than the $614,125 he pocketed last year. In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, Harvey finished 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA, throwing 216 innings combined between the regular season and postseason.
Familia, another first-time arbitration-eligible player, saved 43 games and led the league with 65 games finished in his first year as closer. He also posted a 1.85 ERA. He asked for $4.8 million, while the club offered $3.3 million.