In what seems to be a right of passage for any Mets player, Jed Lowrie is dealing with a knee issue. While the team is giving their usual spiel about how this is not a big concern, they are also sending Lowrie for an MRI. Time will tell if this is just a Spring Training ache and pain or if this is something more serious.
On the one hand, you could well argue this is what a team should expect when they sign a soon-t0-be 35 year old middle infielder. Older players are less durable, and as a result, tend to suffer more injuries. With that being the case, you could use this as a basis to criticize the Mets, but you shouldn’t.
Once the team made the trade for Robinson Cano, they were left with having to decide how to handle the construction of their team. On the one hand, they could have looked at Cano and saw a player who absent suspension hasn’t played fewer games than 2006. They could have looked at Jeff McNeil as a capable back-up for the 36 year old in the event Cano does break down, or possibly, faces another suspension.
Still, the team would have been faced with dealing with a 33 year old Todd Frazier. For his part, Frazier has typically been a healthy player. However, with the Mets, he would have the first two DL stints in his career. If this were a sign of things to come, it would be difficult to have McNeil backing up both Cano and Frazier simultaneously.
Looking at it, this left the Mets with a question how to properly build depth. Astutely, Brodie Van Wagenen signed [his former client] Lowrie to serve as that depth. In Lowrie, the Mets were getting an All-Star who hit .267/.353/.448 with 37 doubles, a triple, 23 homers, and 99 RBI (120 OPS+) while playing for the A’s last year. In Lowrie, the Mets obtained a player who could probably be an everyday player for any of the 30 Major League teams.
With Lowrie, the Mets have a play who can play second or third base. It gave the team options at those positions as well as first base with Frazier’s and Cano’s ability to play there. Without him, the Mets are back at square one with Cano and Frazier, two All-Stars who are good defenders at their positions. Without him, they still have plenty of options at first with Peter Alonso, J.D. Davis, and the overlooked Dominic Smith.
The team still has the option to move McNeil back to the infield to buttress the infield depth.
Overall, even if Lowrie goes down, the team has the ability to sustain that injury. If it was Cano or Frazier who went down with injury instead, the team would have had Lowrie. That is exactly why you sign Lowrie, and that is why even if this injury is more severe than expected (as is the Mets way), the team has already been proven right in signing him.
Through the first seven years of his career, Manny Machado has accumulated has been a four time All-Star, and he has won two Gold Gloves. He has three top 10 MVP finishes includes two top five finishes. He has accumulated 33.8 bWAR in his career with 23.2 of that coming over the past four seasons. Since his debut in 2012, he ranks 15th overall in the majors in fWAR, and he ranks ninth since 2015.
This is all Machado has accomplished before his age 26 season, or put another way, this is what Machado has accomplished prior to hitting the prime years of his Major League career.
It should be noted Machado has accumulated a higher WAR than Giancarlo Stanton over the past four years. Stanton signed his deal when he was entering his age 25 season. At that point in his career, Stanton had 21.3 WAR, which is less than the 28.0 WAR Machado had accumulated up until that point of his career.
The Marlins rewarded him with a 13 year $325 million contract extension. As we now know teams were hesitant to give Machado a deal of similar length despite Machado being the better player playing a premium defensive position. But this isn’t just about Stanton and the deal the small market Marlins soon regretted and moved for pennies on the dollar.
For a moment, we should put aside comparisons to any one particular player’s contract. After all, there are plenty of examples available from Chris Davis to Albert Pujols to show how teams do not make good decisions on players. On the converse, there are plenty of contracts were players have signed at massive discounts to the level of production they provide. Instead, let’s look at Fangraphs‘ analysis of what the cost/WAR is for a player:
Looking at it that way, through the first seven years of his Major League career, Machado has been worth $265.99 million to his team. This means, on average, he has been worth $38.0 million per season. If you were to assume Machado put up a similar level of production over the next 10 years, his contract should be worth 10 years $380 million.
Now, if you were to strip away his age 19 season where he played just 51 games and accumulated a 1.6 WAR, Machado has played six full seasons with a 29.0 WAR over that span. Looking at his six full seasons, on average, Machado has been worth $43.1 million per season. Using that valuation, Machado’s 10 year deal should have been worth a total of $431 million.
Keep in mind, that number may be light as well.
There are two factors to consider here. First, we are basing this off the production Machado has had prior to hitting his prime. Considering how teams are purportedly looking to pay players for what they will do and not for what they have done, you could argue Machado deserves more than $431 million based upon what he will do in his prime seasons.
Another factor is since 2012, the price per fWAR has risen. Recently, Major League Baseball has seen record revenues in each of the past 16 seasons. Year-in and year-out, baseball is making more money than the previous season, which in turn means, the owners have more money to allocate to payroll.
Looking at things from that perspective, Machado does not even need to maintain a certain level of production to be worth a perspective $40+ million a year salary. Looking at Fangraphs chart, the value of fWAR went from $5.4 million in 2007 to $10.5 in 2017. That’s almost double the amount.
Let’s say over the next 10 years, the cost per WAR only increases by 25 percent. That would mean the value per WAR would be $13.9 million. If that was the case, Machado would only need a 3.1 WAR player at his age 35 season to earn a $43.1 million salary. Of course, that is just for the value of that year and not the entire contract.
Really, breaking it down, Machado has signed a massively discounted deal with the San Diego Padres for the value he provides on the field. That’s based on factual and objective data. Remember that the next time Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio says the system isn’t broken or Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network says free agency is merely “recalibrated.”
Assuming the Mets carry five bench spots, which is the norm for a National League team, the race for the last spot on the bench became much more crowded and complicated with the team’s signing of Adeiny Hechavarria. That question becomes further complicated when you question just what exactly the Mets real intentions are with Peter Alonso.
Assuming Alonso begins the season in Triple-A, the Mets already have bench spots allocated to Travis d’Arnaud and Keon Broxton. One of Juan Lagares or Jeff McNeil is going to play everyday meaning the other is going to be on the bench. That is three bench spots spoken for with two remaining. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.
Considering the Mets parted with a package headlined by Luis Santana in what has been an oft criticized trade, you could see the pressure to carry J.D. Davis. Aside from the pressure, whether it be real or imagined, Davis does have the ability to play both corner infield spots adequately, and despite his deficiencies out there, the does have outfield experience.
The real positive for Davis is the power he could provide off the bench, but in order for that to be realized, he is going to have to increase the launch angle in his swing and his corresponding high ground ball rates. There is also a real question whether Chili Davis is the hitting coach to get him to realize his full power potential.
If the Mets are looking for a versatile infielder who can play the outfield, there is forgotten man T.J. Rivera. Rivera missed last season due to Tommy John surgery, but reports this Spring have been overly positive. While we know Rivera is not a particularly good defender, the Mets also know Rivera can be trusted to start at any position over a long stretch. Between the 2017 season and the World Baseball Classic, we have also seen him able to raise his game in big games.
The issue both players have is neither plays shortstop. For that matter, neither does Jed Lowrie, which arguably led to the Mets signing Hechavarria to a minor league deal. The one thing we do know with Hechavarria is he can play shortstop and play it well. Over the last four seasons combined, he has amassed a 26 DRS. The problem with him is he can’t hit as evidenced by his career 72 wRC+.
Hitting was also an issue for Luis Guillorme. In his brief time with the Mets, he was only able to muster a 53 wRC+ in 35 games. That is partially because Guillorme received uneven playing time. It is also because he has never been considered to be a great hitter. Still, there are two factors in Guillorme’s favor. First, like Hechavarria, he is a good defender. Second, Guillorme did show himself to be an adept pinch hitter last year hitting .273/.467/.364 in 15 pinch hitting appearances.
Now, if the Mets are looking for a more offensive oriented middle infielder who could play shortstop, the team does have Gavin Cecchini. Heading into last season, Cecchini had worked on his swing, and it had paid dividends with him hitting .294/.342/.468 in 30 games for Las Vegas before fouling a ball off his leg effectively ending his season. If Cecchini shows he is able to hit the same way, he could make a case for a bench spot for himself.
Standing in Cecchini’s way is his not being on the 40 man roster and his shortstop defense having pushed him to second base. The same could also be true for Dilson Herrera. For his part, Herrera was never truly considered anything more than a second baseman and that was before his shoulder injury. That shoulder injury cost him some of his offensive output until he rediscovered his stroke last year hitting .297/.367/.465 for the Reds Triple-A affiliate.
One other overlooked name for the Opening Day bench is Dominic Smith. If Alonso were to start the year in Triple-A, the Mets would have to find playing time for Alonso, Gregor Blanco, Rajai Davis, Rymer Liriano, and Tim Tebow between first base, three infield spots, and DH. Even with how down the team may be on Smith, it is difficult to believe they would leave him in Syracuse to fight for playing time between those three spots.
Instead, the team could carry him on the Major League roster. Certainly, Smith reporting to camp with not just his keeping the weight off but also adding muscle, helps improve his chances. His being a good defensive first baseman capable of playing left field in a pinch should also help him.
Of course, Smith would have to compete with all of the aforementioned players as well as Danny Espinosa just to claim a bench spot. He would also have to count on the team not putting Alonso on the Opening Day roster, which judging from the improvements Alonso has made, is not a safe assumption.
Really, when breaking it down, the Mets have plenty of options to fill out their bench, and ultimately for this team to reach its full potential, they are going to have to find the right mix of players to complement their everyday players. Hopefully, everyone comes to play making this as difficult a decision as the Mets will have all year.
When you look at baseball right now, this is a sport in trouble. No, it is not in trouble because of any of the oft publicized and overblown issues like “pace of play.” Baseball is in trouble because years of labor peace are at risk, and players like Adam Wainwright and talking strike quite publicly because of how the owners have been treating free agency and other issues. Making matters even worse is Rob Manfred being Rob Manfred.
Addressing the media yesterday, he had the temerity to put the blame on the agents for current free agency hold-up saying, “Do I wish, if I had my way, that Scott Boras or Dan Lozano — whatever agent — would find a way to make a deal with some club sooner rather than later?”
As for making that deal, Boras would disingenuously say this is the result of the way teams now analyze and negotiate with players. He would even go so far as to tell the players to just reap what they sow saying, “I think it’s important to remember that the Major League Baseball Players Association has always wanted a market-based system, and markets change, particularly when the institution around those markets change.”
Looking at it, Manfred is right things have changed. They must have when not every team is on two 26 year old future Hall of Famers. However, it is more than that.
As detailed by Forbes, MLB has yet again had record revenues, which does not included the nearly $3 billion sale of BAM to Disney. What is incredible to contemplate is there is even more money on the horizon, and that’s even with the hand-wringing over the decline in attendance.
Now, consider for a moment, as ESPN reported MLB payrolls actually went down last year. Now, suspensions were part of it, but another part of it is the luxury tax has not been increased in proportion to league revenues. This is important because increasingly teams are using the luxury tax as a de facto cap.
Now, the entire reason there is a luxury tax as well as other similar spending and competitive balance measures is supposedly to create an even playing field. The concept is if you permit the Yankees to spend all they could spend, they would leave a team like the Rays in the dust. That’s a concept Rob Manfred now denies saying, “I reject the notion that payroll is a good measure for how much a team is trying or how successful that team is going to be.”
So, to get this right. MLB has insisted on a luxury tax to keep things even, and then their Commissioner says it is not a measure of how good a team will be. Justin Verlander jumped in with the obvious response:
Agreed… finally we’re on the same page! Awesome! Removal of the luxury tax it is. https://t.co/Omy0SaXZ1z
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) February 18, 2019
Overall, Manfred stood up and blamed the players and their agents while simultaneously citing one of the things the owners fought long and hard for have absolutely nothing to do with the success of teams on the field. Remember, he “rejects the notion.” Yet, we know someone the owners won’t take that off the table during the next CBA negotiation.
Through all of that, Manfred would then say, “I hate the negativity that surrounds the coverage of the sport right now.”
He hates it so much he points fingers. Oh and by they way, Manfred is pushing a pitch clock because he does not like the pace of the game right now. He thinks it needs to move faster to be more watchable. Somehow, he doesn’t think his repeated negative comments on the pace of play plays any part in promoting negativity surrounding the sport
In his press conference on Thursday, Mets ace Jacob deGrom said if the Mets were not going to extend him he would have to confer with his agents about whether he should have a self imposed innings restriction in 2019. It should be noted deGrom’s new agent, Jeff Barry, has been urging pitchers to impose innings restrictions upon their teams in response to how teams have handled the free agent market the past few seasons.
While many believe it may never come to this, it is certainly possible deGrom or his agents may attempt to impose an innings restriction upon the team. As we saw with Matt Harvey in 2015, drama would ensue should there be another incident. The question for Mets fans in 2019 is whether they would support deGrom in a similar situation this season. Our Mets Bloggers offer their opinions:
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Now THAT’S a conflict of interest. Obviously, deGrom deserves every penny he’s set to make and has every right to protect himself from injury with that type of windfall at stake. However, I want the Mets to win and having JdG on the mound as often as possible significantly improves their chances of success. I really don’t think it’s going to get that far, though.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
Agree with Tim. I don’t think it gets that far. But I whole heartedly support Jacob’s right to be pissed off.
Editor’s Note: Metstradum had an excellent article on that very topic, which you should read.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Last time I checked, Jake is getting paid 17 million dollars to throw baseballs this season. He’d better throw 200 innings with a smile on his face, and I don’t want to hear about his contract again. Yes, the Mets need to extend him, and make him a Met for life, but c’mon.
I’ll add that when he does get his deal, he should send an envelope to Wally Backman, because if it weren’t for Wally, Jake would have been used in the BP when the Mets brought him up. It probably cost him his job, but Wally called Terry and told him Jake had to be a SP and to fight hard for it.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
I expect Jacob deGrom to pitch as best he can, as often and as much as he is called on to do (which in this era is never enough as we would choose). He has been a pro’s pro for five seasons and see no reason to believe that will change because of negotiation-related posturing. His integrity seems as Cy Young-caliber as his body of work.
If he wants to preserve his arm after the Mets clinch and before the playoffs, I’d definitely support that.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
DeGrom has certainly earned an expensive extension, and he’s a good season or two away from becoming a top five-or-so pitcher in Mets history. But shutting down in September could be a lot to ask of the Front Office and of fans if we’re in a playoff race. If we’re 20 games out on September first, then it might be in everyone’s best interests — deGrom, the FO, fans — to shut him down and save his arm. But if we’re in a spot where the standings might come down to a few games either way, I think the opposite is true: I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests for deGrom to pack it in early. Fans will hate it, obviously, and management won’t like it either, and if deGrom goes against his team to shut himself down, you have to think it will damage relations between his agents and the Mets, and also hurt his standing going into Free Agency.
Having said all that…I don’t think he’ll shut himself down if we’re in a spot where we need him to pitch. He doesn’t seem like the type. But with the Mets…who the hell knows?
Bre S (That Mets Chick)
deGrom has earned every penny given to him. He received a raise in arbitration earning $17 million this season. I am very conflicted about this topic because I think he deserves a big pay day, but I also want him to pitch down the stretch, especially if we are in a playoff race. This reminds me another time in Mets drama history. Matt Harvey in 2015 recovering from TJS was asked by his agent, Scott Boras to limit his innings to preserve himself for the future. With all the drama and headlines late that season, he ended up pitching deep into the season and then the World Series. There are clear differences in Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom: Injuries, attitude and behavior. deGrom is a great Mets player. He is loyal to the team. I want him signed long term but its very tough to say I would want him to shut it.
While I do not like deGrom having a self imposed innings limitation, I do have to respect him doing what is best for him and his career. So long as he gives the team sufficient notification of his intent, the Mets should be able to set forth a plan where deGrom will be in a position to pitch down the stretch and into the postseason. Given what deGrom said at the press conference, the Mets should be making plans for that very scenario RIGHT NOW.
At the end of the day, if the Mets don’t plan for this contingency, and they instead try to pressure deGrom into pitching well past his innings limits, like they did with Harvey, that’s on the Mets – no matter how much they try to spin it.
That said, if deGrom doesn’t make himself available to pitch a late September game or refuses to pitch in the postseason, then he should be subjected to whatever scorn comes his way. Hopefully, no one will be in that position.
Overall, no matter what your position is on supporting deGrom, please support the writers who take their time to contribute to this roundtable. Their work is excellent, and they should receive your support.
With the Mets hiring an agent as opposed to a front office baseball executive, you knew Brodie Van Wagenen was going to have a learning curve. As such, he was going to make some bad moves, and certainly, you knew he was going to make some curious decisions. Some may inure to the Mets benefit while others may not. If these questionable decisions do work out for the Mets, then a World Series may very well be in the team’s future.
Why Isn’t Cano Playing First Base?
Robinson Cano was the big bat the Mets acquired this offseason, and the plan is for him to be a fixture in the Mets lineup. However, that is for as many games as he is able to play. To his credit, Brodie Van Wagenen has been quite vocal about the need to give Cano more days off than he is accustomed due to Cano being 36 years old.
If we harken back to 1999, Bobby Valentine did this with a 40 year old Rickey Henderson to get the last good season out of Henderson. That also led to the Mets claiming the Wild Card and going to the NLCS.
For Cano, it is not just his age, but it is also his position. Players who play up the middle play the more taxing defensive positions in baseball. That takes more of a toll on a 36 year old player. Given Jed Lowrie‘s presence on the team, you have to wonder why the team doesn’t make Lowrie the second baseman with Cano playing first.
Putting Cano at first would be putting him in a position where he would not be as subject to fatigue over the course of the season. It should also be noted with Cano already 36 years old and his signed for five more seasons, it is a position switch he will eventually have to make. If he is going to have to make the switch, why not do it now so the Mets could coax more at-bats and games from him over the course of the season?
Where Is Davis Getting His Opportunity?
With J.D. Davis‘ minor league stats, you could make the argument all he needs to succeed at the Major League level is an opportunity to play at the Major League level. Certainly, it’s a fair point to raise when someone hits .342/.406/.583 in 85 Triple-A games and .175/.248/.223 in 42 MLB games.
The problem is you’d be hard-pressed to where exactly he would get that opportunity.
He’s behind Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie at the third base depth chart. He’s behind Peter Alonso and Frazier on the first base depth chart. He’s a right-handed compliment to right-handed hitters. He’s not suited to play outfield in the majors, and even if he was, he’s buried on the outfield depth chart as well. Combine that with Lowrie and Jeff McNeil being the versatile players on the roster, and you have to wonder where he gets hit at-bats.
After you are done contemplating that, you are left to wonder why the team would trade three good prospects in Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, and Scott Manea for him when they could’ve just as easily signed Mark Reynolds or Matt Davidson.
Was McNeil Playing LF the Original Plan?
One of the benefits of having McNeil on the roster is having a versatile player on the roster. Despite the team’s initial reluctance last year, he is someone who has received playing time at all four infield positions, and he has always trained in the outfield. To that extent, penciling him as the team’s starting left fielder, even against just right-handed pitching made a ton of sense.
That plan made even more sense when you consider Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are both capable center fielders with Juan Lagares being the best defensive center fielder in the game. Really, breaking it down, moving McNeil to left field was probably the best way to handle the Mets resources.
However, the plan to move McNeil to left field does raise some interesting questions. For example, why didn’t the team send him to winter ball to play outfield. Also, why would the team expend resources to obtain Keon Broxton only to make him a fifth outfielder? Moreover, if McNeil is your outfielder, shouldn’t the team have a better insurance option against his inability to play left field than Broxton?
What’s the Plan for Backup Catcher?
When the Mets traded Kevin Plawecki to the Indians, they were effectively announcing Travis d’Arnaud was healthy enough to be the backup. That was called into question when Mickey Callaway said Devin Mesoraco signed with the Mets because of his relationship with Jacob deGrom.
It would seem if the Mets signed Mesoraco to catch deGrom the team now has one catcher too many. Does this mean the team is planning on moving him on the eve of Opening Day, or is Mesoraco willing to catch in the minors until the inevitable injury to d’Arnaud or Wilson Ramos. If that is the case, what impact does this have on Tomas Nido, and his future?
On the bright side, the Mets have good depth at the catcher position, but that only remains true to the extent they are keeping everyone. If they are the challenge is then to keep everyone happy and sharp, which is much easier said than done.
Where’s the Starting Pitching Depth?
With Jason Vargas struggling since the 2017 All-Star Break, you would have thought the Mets would have done more to address their pitching depth. That goes double when you consider the team traded Justin Dunn, their best starting pitching prospect, and with David Peterson and Anthony Kay being at least a couple of years away.
With the health issues facing Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, you would’ve thought the Mets would have been pressed more to add starting pitching depth. When you couple that with Van Wagenen knowing Jeff Barry councils his pitching clients to limit their innings, you would believe the Mets would have pressed to go more than four deep in the pitching rotation.
But the Mets haven’t. Not really. Their depth is essentially the same group who posted an ERA over 5.00 as MLB staters along with Hector Santiago, a pitcher now better suited to the bullpen.
When you look at this rotation the best health they had was in 2015, and that was a year the team needed 10 starting pitchers to get through the season. This team has nowhere near that type of depth.
As it turns out, more than anything, it may turn out to be the pitching depth which is the biggest key to the 2019 season. If the team is healthy, and deGrom and Syndergaard go against their agent’s advice, it is possible the team has enough pitching to get through the season. If the pitchers do impose pitching limits and there is more than one pitching injury, the team’s hopes of winning anything may be done, and that is even if the other questions are answered in the affirmative.
Today is February 16th, which means it is two days after Valentine’s Day. On the surface, it would appear foolish to purchase Valentine’s Day cards today. After all, with the day having come and gone, who exactly are you going to give the Valentine’s Day cards?
Well, the answer is your child’s class . . . next year.
At the moment, the cards at different stores will be deeply discounted. Likely, you will see them for at least 50% off. If you are lucky, you will find a better deal.
The initial reaction may be cards only cost $4.00 for a group of 16, and as such, you can get cards for your kids class for under $10.00. If you have two kids, it is still less than $20.00. For some people, spending $20 on cards for Valentine’s Day is not that big a deal. That is all well and good, but the same people who treat $20.00 like a rounding error also don’t like to just throw money away.
Fact is you can get cards for not just this year, but you can also get them for the next year or two or three right now. Considering your children are in elementary school for six years, that’s over $120 for Valentine’s Day cards. If you child is in pre-school or daycare, that amount increases by an additional $60. When you look at it in terms of nearly $200.00, you quickly realize how much money you waste on those little cards other people just throw away days after receiving – if not sooner.
As for the cards themselves, in the day and age of peanut free schools, those cards are increasingly including things like pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos. With that in mind, you don’t have to worry about the contents of the cards expiring. Really, you just have to be mindful of the cards you are purchasing.
On that front, certain things don’t go out of style. Superheros and Disney princesses are always in vogue. As for your child, you know where their interests lie, and you can purchase the cards accordingly. You can also purchase a variety of cards so as to not look cheap year-in and year-out.
Really, if you are interested in saving a buck so you don’t have to spend it later, you should go out today and purchase Valentine’s Day cards for your child’s class today. At a minimum, not only will you save a few bucks, but you will also have the benefit of not having the hassle of having to go get them next year.
Yesterday, Jacob deGrom spoke to the media directly for the first time since reports of his frustration surfaced in the media. During his press conference deGrom offered some positive assurances for Mets fans telling us all he loves being a Met, and he wants to stay with the team. He also offered some reasons for concern including the fact he was frustrated and the Mets have yet to make him an offer.
Then, deGrom would drop a bit of a bombshell.
In response to a question about whether he would be willing to have a self imposed innings restriction next year, deGrom responded, “You play this game because you love it and then you have an opportunity to look out for your family and your future, so you have to see what’s right for you to do and I think that’s a discussion that’s going to have to be had with my agents.”
That’s not a yes, but it’s certainly not a no. What it was was a declaration that nothing if off the table in this negotiation, including deGrom consulting with his agents to come up with a plan to protect his arm so he can be as healthy as possible when he heads into free agency after the 2020 season.
When deGrom speaks on this matter there are three very important things to consider. First, deGrom has his own injury history. His career almost never got off the ground because he had Tommy John surgery. He would have to be shut down in a pennant race in 2016 to have ulnar transposition surgery. Just last season, he had a back issue in Spring Training, which cost him his Opening Day start, and he would hyper-extend his elbow on a swing.
Just as much as any other player, deGrom knows how the next injury can happen at any moment, and depending on the severity of the injury, it can have long lasting ramifications.
He saw those ramifications first-hand with Matt Harvey. During the 2015 season, deGrom watched on as Harvey was pressured to ignore his own agent’s advice on innings restrictions. He watched Harvey pitch against the advice of his agents, and he watched on as Harvey would be a shell of himself from 2016 until he was traded for Devin Mesoraco in May of last year.
On the topic of the agents, deGrom is represented by Jeff Barry. As has oft been cited over the past few days, Barry is the agent who has been encouraging pitchers to self impose innings restrictions in response to how owners have handled free agency. At the crux of his position is, if teams aren’t going to pay you for the wear and tear you put on your arm during your years under control, don’t allow the teams to abuse your arm for their own gain. Push back.
So, deGrom now has to process all of this and much more in deciding his next step in both negotiation and in terms of what he does should he not get an extension. At the same time, Noah Syndergaard will be making similar assessments.
Like deGrom, Syndergaard has had some scary injuries in his career including a torn oblique and last year’s hyper-extended finger. Also like deGrom, Syndergaard had a front row seat to the Harvey saga. Also, like deGrom, he is represented by Barry, who may very well be having the same discussions with Syndergaard and the team about restricting his innings in 2019.
This means how Brodie Van Wagenen handles these negotiations with deGrom could have a far-reaching impact. Not only could the Mets suddenly find themselves with deGrom limiting his innings, but they may also have to deal with Syndergaard heeding the advice of his agent and doing the same. That’s a very dicey situation for a Mets GM who has not built sufficient pitching depth to withstand his top two pitchers having innings restrictions.
Therefore, at the end of the day, the Metsask themselves if it is worth not giving deGrom what Van Wagenen, himself, told deGrom he was worth just a few short months ago when he was deGrom’s agent. Really, the Mets not stepping up to the plate here could have devastating consequences for their 2019 season.
Due to a back strain and the team wanting to be cautious with their ace, Jacob deGrom gave way to Noah Syndergaard as last year’s Opening Day starter. Unless the team’s handling of deGrom’s extension spills over into the regular season, deGrom will be the eighth Mets player drafted by the team to make an Opening Day start.
Can you name the other seven? Good luck!
With Jacob deGrom putting an Opening Day deadline for a potential contract extension, the team’s immediate focus is going to be locking him up to the point where he could be a Met for life. Of course, the immediacy of the talks are not just because deGrom set a deadline, it is also because deGrom will be a free agent after the 2020 season.
Looking at the rotation, deGrom is not the only pitcher who is fast approaching free agency. Zack Wheeler will be a free agent after the 2019 season. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will be free agents after the 2021 season much like Aaron Nola who just signed a four year $45 million contract extension with the Phillies.
The Nola deal covers the rest of the years he is under team control with a team option for Nola’s first year of free agency. The 2023 team option is worth $16 million.
Looking at Nola, it is important to note he finished third in the Cy Young voting behind deGrom, who settled for $17 million in his third year of arbitration. This means if Nola continues pitching like he did last year, the Phillies will have Nola on a real discount in 2023 thereby freeing the team up to allocate their resources in other areas to improve their ballclub.
Seeing how the market has been relatively set by Nola’s extension coupled with the Mets need for some cost certainty, it would behoove the Mets to pursue extensions with their own starting pitchers. Another important consideration here is Syndergaard and Matz may be at their lowest value.
Syndergaard has been limited to 32 starts over the past two years due to an oblique and then a finger injury. Those injuries have stood in the way of him putting up another great season like he had in 2016. With health and an improved training regiment, which Syndergaard appears to be pursuing, we could see Syndergaard return to the pitcher he was in 2016. Perhaps, he will be even better.
Matz has landed on the disabled list in all four of his Major League seasons, but last year he still made a breakthrough in his career making 30 starts for the first time in his career. During his career, the Mets have seen glimpses from him including his having a 2.51 ERA, 1.021 WHIP, and a 10.9 K/9 in six September starts.
Certainly, the Mets could use the Nola extension as a framework for a possible Syndergaard and Matz extension. You could argue Syndergaard is better than Nola making him worth more money. Certainly, Matz has not had Nola’s success, and with that in mind, the Mets could possibly sign him for even less money.
In short order, the Mets could keep three-fifths of their incredible starting rotation together. This should insulate them from potentially losing Wheeler in free agency. Wheeler leaving could be abated by one of David Peterson or Anthony Kay stepping up this season. Of course, the Mets could sign Wheeler to his own extension.
Perhaps, the Mets and Wheeler could look to Nathan Eovaldi‘s four year $68 million contract as a starting point. After all, both pitchers were strong armed right-handed pitchers who have had injury issues and were roughly league average pitchers until the second half of last year. Wheeler would have the much better second half, but Eovaldi would have a great postseason.
Looking across baseball, increasingly more players are interested in contract extensions. So far this season, we have seen both Nola and Whit Merrifield sign extensions. We may see Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado do the same. It is now time for the Mets to do the same with as many pieces of their rotation as they can.