The contract extension the New York Mets gave Jon Niese in 2012 didn’t lead to greatness, but it was definitely a worthy deal.
On April 4, 2012, the New York Mets did something we rarely see them do. They signed a player to an extension.
Lefty Jon Niese received a five-year deal worth $25.5 million. Signed through 2017, the Mets made a long-term commitment to one of their young and promising pitchers.
Of course, as far as young and promising pitchers go, Niese was quickly passed on the totem pole. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard all made their debuts in the years after. Niese became an afterthought in the rotation with their rise and the unexpectedly awesome years and Cy Young Award season from veteran R.A. Dickey.
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Looking back at the Niese extension almost a decade later, however, it doesn’t strike me as such a bad deal.
Niese ended up with a deal worth $3-$9 million between 2013 and 2016. In 2017, the Mets bought out the final year of the deal for $500K. At no point did the deal ever reach eight-figures.
Including the 2012 season, Niese had a nice run with the team. He went 39-38 with a 3.65 ERA and a 100 ERA+. He was as average as possible and nothing more than the mid-rotation arm he was getting paid to be.
Twice in those years, Niese had a career-best 3.40 ERA. In 2012, he won the most games of his career when he finished the year with 13 victories. Because the team struggled in those years, his efforts often went overlooked.
When the Mets did start to win again in 2015, the end of his time in New York was approaching fast. Although he had a decent regular season, his role in the playoffs was limited. He faced and struck out the only batter he went up against in both the NLDS and NLCS. Niese saw far more action in the World Series out of the bullpen, pitching in four of the five games.
Unfortunately, he had a 5.79 ERA across his 4.2 innings of work.
In one final indirect act of kindness, Niese was traded in December of 2015 to the Pittsburgh Pirates for second baseman Neil Walker. Walker’s time with the Mets may not have resulted in much playoff success, but he did give them a year and a half of productive baseball.
Compared to some other trades in team history, this one was a runaway success.
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Niese was never an ace with the Mets nor does he come close to landing on any list of the top pitchers in franchise history. Strictly looking at his contract and the numbers he gave them, Niese’s extension wasn’t such a bad deal.