NEW YORK -- The Mets may not be counting stacks of money "as high as some people expect," in general manager Sandy Alderson's words, but they do expect to increase their payroll heading into 2014.
Alderson said Tuesday that he expects the payroll to be higher than the $87 million that he calculated for last year's budget, though the GM stopped short of guessing how much higher.
"I don't think our payroll will be below what we saw last year," Alderson said. "As far as where it will finally land, let's defer that question until all precincts have reported."
The Mets currently have $25 million in guaranteed payments budgeted for two players: David Wright and Jon Niese. Tack on expected arbitration raises for several key players and regular salaries for a host of younger ones, and that still leaves the Mets with tens of millions of dollars to spend this winter.
The key will be allocating those funds toward a long list of needs. The Mets continue to search for at least one starting corner outfielder, at least one starting pitcher, a new starting shortstop and a few bullpen arms.
The first of those vacancies could fill quickly. Though Alderson indicated that he has not reestablished contact with free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta, whom he met during last week's General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., the GM expects to be more aggressive earlier in the winter than he has in years past.
"We have to be realistic about the market and not sort of deny the inevitable," Alderson said. "If the market is as robust as it seems to be, I think we have to acknowledge that. And consistent with that acknowledgement, if we're going to participate, we have to recognize that. It may not manifest yet to the average fan, the average person, but I think we are more active than we were last year."