Grading the Jeff McNeil contract extension
The New York Mets and Jeff McNeil agreed on Friday on four years and a $50 million extension with a fifth-year club option which could bring the deal to a total value of $63.75 million.
After a horrible season in 2021, where McNeil could barely hit a .251 average, he rallied to post an astonishing .326/.382/.454/.836 line with a 140 OPS+, his best since 2019. This great performance earned him participation in the All-Star Game, a Silver Slugger award, and the NL batting champion title in 2022.
The Mets got an A+ on their Jeff McNeil contract extension
It seems surprising that the Mets could sign McNeil at this cost after his 2022 season, especially since the fifth year of the contract is not guaranteed. With this deal, the Mets were able to secure a second base as productive as McNeil through age 34 or 35.
To do this, the team brought in two years of arbitration to secure their homegrown talent until the possible ending of his MLB tenure. That means the Mets, who were supposed to pay an estimated $6.5 million in 2023 and about $9 million in 2024, have increased their already monstrous payroll to something close to $470 million for 2023 (including tax penalties).
The deal appears to be a steal on the Mets' part, but McNeil had a sense of urgency to secure a few more years on his contract, taking into account, that he would have been a free agent after 2025 at the late age of 33. The secured dollars after that date could be much less than the annual $12.5 million guaranteed in this deal.
McNeil did well to secure those years in a market that doesn't tend to value older players and especially not power bats. The Mets did even better, using McNeil's need to ensure the years where greater productivity can be guaranteed and not have to go beyond four years, with an option for a fifth year that adds flexibility and more security.
Mets fans must be feeling pretty happy. After seeing the Braves secure their talents in team-friendly contracts, the Mets did the same with a fan-favorite player, a guy who projects to put in a few more .300 or so batting average seasons, thanks to his contact skills and low strikeout rate through the years, with good defense and a great clubhouse personality.