The New York Mets are probably pretty happy right now that they didn’t extend Matt Harvey early on in his career. Will other teams view his downfall as a cautionary tale?
The Mets never handed Harvey an early extension he was willing to sign, but you can bet they wanted to. Early on in his career, it looked like the wise move.
Thankfully, Harvey had Scott Boras whispering in his ear. If there aren’t enough zeroes at the end, Boras will make his clients wait.
Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Phillies gave prospect Scott Kingery a large extension before he played a single game for the big league club. The decision showed faith in the young infielder, but also came with considerable risk. What if he never amounts to anything at all?
Kingery isn’t the only player to get this lucky.
A few years ago, the Houston Astros did the same with Jonathan Singleton. The first baseman was a complete bust yet teams continue to take risks on young players.
The Kingery and Singleton examples are rare. Typically, most of these young studs have at least built up a resume over one or two seasons.
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Pitchers are always a risk with long-term contractions regardless of age. With the way Harvey seemed to lose everything, I don’t think we’ll see any young pitcher get an offer he cannot refuse.
Contracts will have ink on them, yes. None will blow the pitcher away.
Then there’s the other side of the spectrum. A guy like Jacob deGrom, who is still making MLB pennies, bloomed late and certainly deserves an extension. Seeing how Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber had a similar path to MLB, I don’t see an extension for deGrom becoming a major mistake. He’ll never get his major payday but should earn a handsome salary.
Plenty of baseball’s best pitchers are on the other side of 30. Max Scherzer is getting better each year and he’s making an ungodly amount of money. He’s a rare example and the exception to the rule.
There aren’t too many pitchers who started off as great as Harvey. At 26-years-old, the Dark Knight was 25-18 with a 2.53 ERA in 65 career starts. If health was on his side, Harvey could have been elite for many years and one of the highest paid athletes in the world.
Instead, the Mets lucked out by not taking a chance. They came out winners in the Harvey saga regardless of how his career goes.
For an example of what not to do, look at Harvey’s teammate Homer Bailey. The zero-time All-Star is 66-68 lifetime with a 4.46 ERA. He’s making $21 million this year with another $23 million owed next year. Even with multiple no-hitters on his resume, Bailey is an investment the Reds busted on.
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There will always be bad contracts in baseball. Hopefully, for the Mets’ sake, dodging one with Harvey won’t scare them off from extending another young player. Perhaps it’s best if they stick with paying position players early and not someone who relies on his arm so heavily.