deGrom Extension Talks Do Not Reflect Well On Mets
Last year, Brodie Van Wagenen, in his capacity as Jacob deGrom‘s agent, said if the Mets were not prepared to give his client a contract extension, they should entertain trading him. No, this was not a trade demand, but rather, it was a communication designed to facilitate the two sides agreeing to a contract extension.
Presumably, at that time and in the months that followed, Van Wagenen and deGrom has conversations regarding such an extension. These discussions likely included but were not limited to the type of contract deGrom would be willing to accept. It’s also probably a fair assumption this was a fluid conversation which factored into account how much deGrom’s Cy Young season should affect his negotiating position.
Put another way, when Van Wagenen took over as the Mets General Manager, he knew exactly what it would take to make deGrom a Met for life. By the same token, due to the intimate nature of the agent/player relationship, Van Wagenen May have known reasons why the Mets might not want to extend deGrom.
Because of this, it was no surprise the Mets decided Van Wagenen would not take part in any negotiations with respect to deGrom’s arbitration or extension. This was a reason why the Mets and Van Wagenen would have to settle any conflict of issue issues with the MLB and the MLBAPA. It’s also why at Van Wagenen’s introductory press conference, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said his GM would not handle deGrom’s extension:
“We didn’t discuss specifics on any one player like that,’’ Wilpon said of deGrom’s future. “I think [deGrom] is to be determined and Brodie is going to have to recuse himself from some of those discussions. He will have to set an overall tone for the organization, which way he wants us to go, and then we’ll have to have some others be responsible for doing the actual contract.
“The GM gives some guidance, but he’s not totally involved with every last detail,’’ Wilpon said. “[Van Wagenen] can give us direction. He just can’t be involved in the negotiation. Is it something we are worried about? No. We gave it a lot of thought and obviously I went through the process of making sure that everybody was OK with doing this kind of arrangement, of bringing an agent in to our side.’’
(New York Post) [Emphasis added].
That’s unambiguous. The Mets clearly said Van Wagenen would not be involved in negotiating deGrom’s extension.
That story changed today when deGrom gave the Mets an Opening Day deadline to get an extension done. Shortly after that was announced, Van Wagenen said he has been handling negotiations:
Here's Brodie Van Wagenen on Jacob deGrom's contract deadline. He says it's not a big deal, but a mutual understanding: pic.twitter.com/2KT0XnfENK
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 12, 2019
Despite the Mets assurances Van Wagenen would not be involved in negotiating deGrom’s contract, Van Wagenen is involved in “discussions,” i.e. negotiations on deGrom’s extension.
While the obvious implication here is the Mets lied, it’s also possible both sides waived the conflict to permit Van Wagenen to be a part of discussions. Whatever the reason, Van Wagenen is now involved making it all the more baffling as to why a deal has not been done.
Remember, Van Wagenen knew or should have known what it would take to lock up deGrom long term. With a deal not getting done, and reports deGrom is getting frustrated, many questions need to be asked:
- Does Van Wagenen know something which would cause the Mets to not want to extend deGrom?
- Did deGrom’s new agent prod deGrom into believing he was worth more costing the Mets a chance to extend deGrom to more favorable terms?
- Did Van Wagenen rely too much on his relationship with deGrom to spend his budget to improve the 2019 roster now and look to extend deGrom later?
- Do the Mets have a pre-existing policy which would stand in the way of deGrom getting the contract he wanted?
- Did the Mets have plan to fill-out the 40 man roster first and then turn to deGrom to extend him (with that plan not being effectively communicated)?
There are several possibilities beyond these, but with each possibility that arises there is one overriding theme – the Mets have not handled this situation well.
That’s inarguable when the Mets have had a clear change in policy regarding Van Wagenen’s role in negotiations. That’s inarguable when the Mets best player is frustrated and now publicly setting deadlines for when an extension must be consummated.
In the end, none of this truly matters. What really matters is no matter the outcome of the extension discussions, the Mets do not permit this to become a distraction. Hopefully, when all is said and done, not only will this not serve as a distraction, but the Mets also find a way to keep deGrom a Met for his entire career.