Word for most of the offseason was that the Mets and ace Jacob deGrom had mutual interest in a contract extension, but it has yet to come to fruition and it seems as though the usual suspect — Mets ownership — is in the way. The latest news is that deGrom’s camp has stepped up the pressure.
[T]he reigning National League Cy Young award winner has informed team officials he will not negotiate a new deal during the season, an industry source told The Post on Tuesday. DeGrom’s camp has set Opening Day as the deadline to complete any potential long-term deal.
The opening day deadline isn’t all too uncommon, though deGrom isn’t heading into his last year before hitting free agency. He’s actually not a free agent until after the 2020 season. Perhaps his new agent believes this is the best time to strike, given that deGrom is coming off his best season.
In 2018, deGrom was the best pitcher in baseball. He had a 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 269 strikeouts against 43 unintentional walks in 217 innings and 9.6 WAR. He finished fifth in NL MVP voting despite his team winning just 77 games.
Lower down in the Post article is an intriguing section against the backdrop of how bad free agency has been the past two offseasons for the most part.
DeGrom’s CAA agent, Jeff Berry, recently released a memo that outlined recourse for players who seek reform in free agency, following two historically slow markets. Among the ideas suggested by Berry was that pitchers could look to cap their workloads in a season to ensure their value remains at a higher level heading to free agency. And a source indicated deGrom could put such restrictions on himself if a new deal isn’t reached with the Mets.
That’s very interesting. I was actually wondering how deGrom and his agent thought “we’ll go to free agency” provided them with any real leverage at this point, again, given the climate. So this paragraph provides the answer. This would be a move that would be wildly unpopular to most fans, but at the end of the day, the players are starting to get undermined by the system and change is needed.
Of note here is the Mets’ GM is Brodie Van Wagenen, who was deGrom’s agent before taking the job. Surely with the relationship already in place and deGrom wanting to stay with the Mets, Van Wagenen wants to get a deal done, too. It’s just that he’s working for the Wilpon family and, well, we know how they operate when it comes to player payroll.
Right now, the Mets are set to open with a payroll of $162 million and change. The luxury tax threshold is $206 million. The Mets play in the largest market in baseball. DeGrom was the best pitcher in baseball last season and is still in the prime of his career. Given these facts, it’s hard to blame deGrom’s camp for pushing to perhaps drastic measures.