The big buzz around New York Mets Spring Training camp this year is about Jacob deGrom’s future with the team. Because the Mets lacked foresight, extension talks with their ace could get messy.
In case you decided to give up sports for an early lent and you’re back already after breaking your promise, in only the first week at Spring Training, deGrom made headlines by saying he may put an innings limit on himself if the team doesn’t sign him to an extension by Opening Day. The strict deadline doesn’t end the possibility of a long-term deal, but it does sour things between the two.
deGrom did earn a huge raise this offseason with a nearly $10 million increase to his paycheck for 2019. He’ll take home $17 million this year after avoiding arbitration. His kids won’t go hungry for the rest of their lives like Latrell Sprewell’s poor children. There’s no reason anyone should feel bad for deGrom.
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Nevertheless, the business of baseball involves billionaires paying millionaires. deGrom wants what we all want: job security. An extension would ensure he’d get this.
Coincidentally enough, the same week when deGrom speaks out about his own contract details, others around the league are signing extensions of their own. Aaron Nola and Luis Severino both signed extensions with their respective teams. The Minnesota Twins locked up position players Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco as well.
Meanwhile, after avoiding arbitration with all eligible players this winter, the Mets have failed to accomplish what current general manager Brodie Van Wagenen demanded last summer. Back when he represented deGrom as his agent, BVW demanded the Mets extended or trade his client. Neither action occurred and now things are getting messy.
At 30-years-old, deGrom’s case is different from others who signed long deals last week. He’s older and closer to free agency. I understand the arguments that say they shouldn’t extend him.
The right time to extend deGrom would have been after the 2017 season. He showed he was healthy again and managed to turn in a fourth productive campaign.
Had the Mets spent the money to extend deGrom then, they would have a huge bargain in the number one spot of their rotation. He was a Cy Young contender then. Now, he’s a winner and favorite for the award.
The Mets can’t take back this mistake and because of it, they’re now in a standoff with their number one starter. Things feel worse than they actually are. At this moment, I’m sure every team has at least one player unhappy with his salary and an organization unwilling to do anything about it.
All of the circumstances about this is odd and so, for lack of better phrase, “Mets like.”
Van Wagenen was the man who got this started at the 2018 All-Star Game and now he’s the one on the other side denying deGrom the deal. We know the owners ultimately decide who gets the man, but it’s still amazing to see how Van Wagenen can back peddle on something he said only a few months ago.
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This isn’t the last time we may see a situation like this with the Mets. Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo are three guys to watch for in the near future to undergo a similar process. Until any of them are locked up beyond their arbitration-eligible seasons, we have to anticipate a circus to ensue.