Mets need to show a greater commitment to their young stars
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets have been reluctant to buy out arbitration years of their young stars. This needs to change.
The Atlanta Braves are running away with the National League East yet again in 2019. As much as this has to do with the raw talent on the team, I believe it also has something to do with the organization’s commitment to its young stars. On the other end of the division, the New York Mets are fighting to stay alive in the Wild Card race from the bottom.
It’s a familiar sight. One reason for this is the lack of attention they’ve given their top players all decade-long.
Nothing beats talent in sports, but you can steal a few wins on team chemistry, culture, and heart. The 2019 Mets have shown how they lack in these areas at times. When they are defeated, the whole team seems to join in the jump from the bridge. Arguing and fighting with the media has been a regular occurrence whether it’s about the team’s slump or reports of trades. It seems many young Mets players view their stay in Queens as a pit stop. Worst of all, the front office has the same thought.
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The Mets have been a stingy team when it comes to offering contract extensions. Even a frugal organization like the Tampa Bay Rays has rewarded their young stars with longer deals. Franchise stars Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, and Blake Snell each got one. Granted, the former two have since been traded away, but not until several years after the extensions were signed.
During the preseason, we saw the Mets do something they rarely do. They extended a player. Jacob deGrom got a well-deserved new contract which helped restore a little faith in the fans and other players who will soon reach their free agency period.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much chatter about keeping guys like Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard for much longer than the next two seasons. Rather, Syndergaard is heavily talked about in trade rumors. How much of this is actually true, we’ll never know for sure.
I understand not all players are interested in an extension nor do all deserve one. This decade, the most notable Mets to receive one are deGrom, David Wright, Juan Lagares, and Jon Niese. The latter pair didn’t work out at all for New York, potentially making them a little more cautious about these types of deals.
Baseball has changed since. Now, younger players are signing these deals. The Braves are locking up their young stars. The Mets, at least to an extent, should do the same for theirs.
When Mets players reach free agency, the organization usually lets them go. We have seen them trade Jay Bruce and Jeurys Familia only to bring them back. They also saw Yoenis Cespedes enter the free agent pool twice before re-signing him.
In the early part of the decade, they did sign Wright long-term, but only after he was nearing free agency. Unfortunately, by this stage of his career, the Captain was a broken former star. Once again, goodwill in the extension department came back to bite the Mets.
With free agency no longer looking as lucrative for anyone but the superstars, an extension is a more probable way to keep players happy and under control. The Mets haven’t gotten the memo on this. It’s time they open the mail and see it’s time to begin reconsidering this philosophy.
In July, there was talk of the Mets potentially trading Syndergaard and offering Zack Wheeler a contract extension. Near zero-hour, they finally seemed willing to match up with Wheeler in what would have been a bold move if paired with a trade involving Thor.
Neither transaction ever happened which makes me believe this was just a thought and not an actual pursuit of theirs.
Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil are two position players in a spot where they could have their arbitration years bought out early. I’m doubtful it happens. This isn’t how the Mets have operated. Why would they change now?
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It would be wonderful to see the Mets build around its top young players and add as they go. This process can start by showing a commitment to the youth on the MLB roster.