Yesterday was the arbitration deadline for MLB teams and the New York Mets were able to secure deals with all but one player. Jeff McNeil, the reigning National League batting champion, filed for $7.75 million while the Mets were at $6.25 million.
The difference is a million and a half or as Steve Cohen calls it, lunch on Sunday.
The inability to come to an agreement on a deal isn’t the worst thing. In fact, there’s a positive way to spin this specific to McNeil. The two sides will have to talk. Does it help hammer out an extension?
The Mets and Jeff McNeil have a chance to get something figured out for the long-term
An extension for McNeil is something Mets fans have been eager to see. He’s a hitter’s hitter. The banned shift this season won’t hurt or help him at all. He’s the kind of guy who channels his inner Tony Gwynn when he steps up to the plate.
Outside of his bleak 2021 performance at the plate, McNeil has been consistently producing for this ball club. With his batting title as the headline of his resume, now is the time for him to ask for a little more and the Mets to get something done before it becomes apparent he’s on his way out.
McNeil turns 31 in April and has two years of control left including the 2023 season. Keeping him long-term should be something the Mets have on their minds. However, this won’t be one of those massive deals. Buying out his last two arbitration seasons and tacking on maybe three more could be more in-line with what the front office is thinking.
Because the Mets do have shortstop prospects Ronny Mauricio and Jett Williams in the minor leagues, they may feel less inclined to overpay for McNeil. Even if he remains a consistent hitter for many more years, other parts of his game could decline. He was a much-talked-about trade candidate last winter. When the Mets have someone internal they can play at second base over him, could we see them execute a trade?
A fan favorite before he even arrived in the major leagues, you’ll have a tough time finding any Mets fan who doesn’t have him penciled into the lineup for at least the next five seasons. His ability to lead the team in average and play multiple positions as well as he does is an incredible gift. Hopefully, the difference of opinion on his value right now has the two entities come together and realize the relationship should continue.