PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Sandy Alderson brushed aside any implication that he has taken issue with the Mets' payroll during his tenure as general manager.
The subject was raised on Thursday with the publication of excerpts from an upcoming biography, "Baseball Maverick," in which Alderson discussed taking the job as the franchise dealt with fallout from the Bernie Madoff financial scandal.
"Madoff wasn't even a topic of conversation in my interview for the Mets job," the book quotes Alderson. "I didn't raise it. Maybe I should have. The bottom line is, I would have taken the job anyway. It just added to the challenge."
Alderson said on Thursday that he made similar comments previously.
"Some people want to interpret the last four years strictly in terms of what financial resources were available or not available to the Mets," said Alderson, who noted he didn't write or read the book authored by Steve Kettmann. "That's a point of view that some people have. And people will extrapolate from whatever might suggest that as a continuing theme.
"So from that standpoint, that's never been an issue for me. Never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us. I haven't talked about it recently. Haven't talked about it in the past. I don't intend to. It's not relevant to me."
He continued, "The last four years is a story of putting the franchise back into a competitive situation on the field with good players. And I think we're on the cusp of doing that."
In the book, Alderson also discussed the Mets' bullpen entering the 2014 season.
"We got the payroll up over $85 million, which everyone was waiting for us to do or not do," he said during an interview in February of last year. "It sure would be nice if we could add to our bullpen. The perception of the team would be completely different. Right now people think we're incomplete, and you know, they may be right."
Alderson shot down any implication of a payroll restriction.
"There was all this speculation," he said. "We had talked about an $85-million payroll roughly. There was a period of time during which we were below that. So everybody was like we had to meet this standard. And it became more about the payroll."
The bullpen improved as the year went along, which Alderson cited as proof that "it's not always about spending money."
"So I think that's the approach we've all taken over the last several years, not just last year or even this year," Alderson said. "But look, our payroll's at $100 million right now, which is up about 20 percent from what it was last year, so I don't think anybody has any complaints at all on our end."
The payroll last season was roughly $85 million.
Notes & quotes: Jacob deGrom flashed more of the dominating arsenal that made him the NL Rookie of the Year. DeGrom struck out five of the first seven batters he faced in the Mets' 11-9 exhibition win over the Nationals. The righthander allowed two runs and three hits in three innings . . . Lucas Duda collected two hits in his first action of spring training, though it came in a simulated game on the back fields. Duda has been battling a strained intercostal.