Why the Mets Should Go "Matt Moore" All Over Their Own Young Players

Some people let out a bit of a chuckle the other day when the Tampa Bay Rays handed Matt Moore an eight-year, $39.75 million extension. The source of comedy might have been that the 22 year-old only appeared in 9.3 innings for the Rays in 2011, while making just one start. Seems like a lot of money to fork over to a player with under 10 innings of Major League experience, right? Maybe so. But considering the left-handed pitcher absolutely dominated Minor League hitters (1.92 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 4.57 K/BB in 155 IP), held his own in the Majors (2.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 5.00 K/BB in 9.3 IP), and even dazzled during the Playoffs (0.90 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, and 2.67 K/BB in 10 IP), it’s possible the Rays know what they’re doing. In fact, it’s even possible that the Rays made the best “signing” of the off-season. In regards to the New York Mets, seeing their own homegrown stud Jose Reyes jet for the Marlins only proves why the Mets should technically be talking to Jonathon Niese and Ike Davis about long-term deals. Like, right now.

The thought process behind securing young players through their arbitration and even a few free-agent years is that these premature contracts will always be cheaper than re-signing them later on. Yes, there’s always the chance the players don’t pan out, but the contracts are so comparatively inexpensive, that it honestly doesn’t matter either way. Take Niese for example. The southpaw pitcher has produced a combined 4.6 fWAR from 2010 and 2011, which is equivalent to $19.5 million. Know how much the Mets paid him for his services during that stint? A measly $854,000. Hypothetically, if the Mets extended Niese to a six-year, $30 million deal, it wouldn’t even matter if the lefty, God forbid, blew out his arm after the first two seasons. He probably will have already earned his contract by then.

The same goes for Ike Davis. Davis earned a combined 4.9 fWAR in 2010 and 2011, which is equivalent to $20.2 million. It’s even possible that his cumulative value would have been in the $40 million-area if he had not succumbed to that freak fielding injury. Granted, it would be nice to see Ike take the field before extending him 5 or 8 years, but if a player could potentially earn 5833% (!) more than his current salary, a team must truly be insane to not at least broach the “extension” subject.

I’m confident that Sandy Alderson has the exact same mindset, and that unfortunately, his bosses don’t even have the coin to sign team-friendly deals for Niese and Davis. But if the Mets want to enjoy many years of success with homegrown players at the helm, they will have to adapt the Rays approach soon. If not, fans will continually see the next “Jose Reyes” exit in his prime.

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Tags: Ben Berkon Extending Ike Davis Extending Jon Niese Extending Matt Moore Ike Davis Jon Niese Jonathon Niese Jose Reyes Matt Moore Mets New York New York Mets Rays Rising Apple Sandy Alderson

  • Metsense

    At first glance I was against the idea, but how different is it than signing your #1 draft pick for millions when they haven’t even played yet. Tampa Bay is one of the best run franchises in baseball and a leader in money management. That alone makes the idea worthwhile and it will probably become the trend. The Rays will get the last laugh.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    The Rays have always done this for guys like Longoria and Moore, and they are- as always- light years ahead of the game. Their analysis is second to none, so it would be smart for one of the guys who started Moneyball- Sandy Alderson- to do the same. I would definitely give Ike Davis a deal like this, and they really should have done it sooner. Right now, Davis is their building block really.

  • risingapple

    Beane has been doing it forever too. One of the reasons Cahill was so valuable was because of the extremely team-friendly deal Beane extended him to. @SorianoJoe

  • UpAlongFirst

    The thing is, not every young player will be WILLING to sign a deal like this. Some just might be so confident in their success in the future, that they’ll just wait it out until arbitration.

    Also, there is a big difference between Matt Moore and Jonathon Niese. The Mets shouldn’t just throw deals like this at any of their prospects, because then they won’t get the value in return. Matt Moore is a special pitcher, one who could eventually win multiple Cy Young Awards, while Niese could probably turn into a decent number 2 starter at best. These deals should really only be for big-time prospects.