Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he expects the team's payroll to be between $85 million and $88 million this season, which would be a slight decrease from its $90.9 million final figure last year.
Despite the additions of free agents Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young, the Mets have a payroll resembling that of a mid-market franchise. The Los Angeles Dodgers' payroll is over $225 million and the New York Yankees will top $200 million.
"Any time there are concerns or issues with any club related to certain habits or trends, we pay attention to it," Clark said after speaking with Mets players Tuesday during his tour of the 30 spring training camps. "New York is no different than any other club, from the standpoint of appreciating what's paid in payroll and how clubs may be functioning in general, related to improving the group they have on the field."
Clark declined to say specifically whether the union has spoken with the Mets' owners or front office about payroll.
"Rest assured that any conversations we're having with management likely won't end up in the newspaper," he said. "We will always stay engaged, from top to bottom with any club, at least related to any concerns we may have and how those concerns manifest themselves."
Clark also said he was concerned free agent shortstop Stephen Drew has not signed. Drew, pitcher Ervin Santana and designated hitter Kendrys Morales declined to accept $14.1 million qualifying offers, and teams signing them would lose a selection in June's amateur draft. But if a team signs one of those players after the draft, it would not forfeit a pick.
"Any time you have players on the free-agent market who are still sitting at home come March 4 that I think everyone would agree can have a positive impact on any club that they would happen to play on, it is a concern," Clark said. "It's a topic that we pay a lot of attention to because we don't think it's in anyone's best interests to have some of the top players in the game sitting at home and not playing on the field."