New York Mets: Three Jeff McNeil predictions for the 2020 season
A contract extension, or at least a discussion of one
Free agency is not kind to players of McNeil’s profile, that is older players with a contact-oriented approach. In fact, it’s generally not kind to older players in general. McNeil will not hit free agency until his age 32 season, and by that point, the Mets will have Brett Baty, Mark Vientos, and Ronny Mauricio all ready to contribute or already contributing, likely pushing McNeil out the door.
If McNeil wants to make money, his camp should start talking extension and buy out his arbitration years. As of now, the range for extensions for players of McNeil’s utility is anywhere between Whit Merrifield‘s incredibly team-friendly four year $16.25 million deal with the Royals before the 2019 season, or Scott Kingery‘s six-year, $24 million deal he signed before his 2018 major league debut.
An extension of at least five years and $20 million is right in that ballpark. It’s incredibly team-friendly, keeps McNeil as part of the team’s core, and allows the Mets to allocate money towards more costly extensions due to players like Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman, all of whom are set to become free agents between now and 2021.
Plus, considering how much financial breathing room the team has now with less money owed to Yoenis Cespedes, $4 million keeps the team under the luxury tax threshold for the time being.
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The 2019 campaign was only the beginning for Jeff McNeil, it’s not hard to imagine 2020 will be just as good, if not better.