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Mets Should Extend Steven Matz Now

As we saw last offseason, there is usually discussion about the need to extend the team’s best players, and to the Mets credit, they did what they needed to do in order to agree to a contract extension with Jacob deGrom. With him winning the Cy Young Award last year, the team is so far very happy with their decision.

In the ensuing years, the team has real decisions to make on contract extensions for their other starters. Marcus Stroman is a free agent after the 2020 season. After the 2021 season, both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will be free agents. Unless the Mets move to extend one or all of them, they stand in danger of losing them all to free agency like they are currently facing with Zack Wheeler.

While the immediate need is Stroman, and the focus is mostly centered around Syndergaard, now is a very good time for the Mets to entertain extending Matz.

In 2019, Matz arguably had the worst season of his career. Overall, he was 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA, 1.341 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9. Looking at all the numbers, the ERA, WHIP, BB/9, and K/9 were the second worst of his career. The same can be said for the H/9. When considering most of his career worsts came in a 2017 season where he had a massive bone spur, this was his worst season.

Still, there were some real positives which emerged during the 2019 season which should have the Mets looking to extend him. As a point of demarcation, Matz moved to the middle of the pitching rubber before his July 16 start against the Minnesota Twins.

Prior to that start, Matz struggled mightily, and he would be demoted to the bullpen heading into the All-Star Break. In his 16 starts and two relief appearances, he was 5-6 with a 4.89 ERA, 1.481 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and an 8.7 K/9. As he was coming out of the bullpen, Matz was limited in his pitch count, but he fared well against the Twins allowing just two earned over four innings. After this start, his season would turn the corner.

From July 21 until the end of the season, Matz would make 13 starts going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and an 8.7 K/9. Over this stretch, he had a 3.65 FIP. It’s a small sample size, but it is notable his FIP over this stretch was better than what Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin had.

Looking at the numbers, Matz pitched like the Mets fourth best starter, which honestly, is all the Mets expect him to be. On another team, he could be a three or even a number two, especially for teams who have begun to de-emphasize starting pitching.

In addition to the improved stats Matz had since he moved his position on the rubber, there were some other promising signs. For a pitcher who has dealt with injury problems, he has made 30 starts for consecutive seasons, and his 160.1 innings were a career high. The exit velocity and barrel percentage against him was the lowest it has been since 2016.

Really, when you break it all down, Matz is a pitcher in his prime, and he appears to be getting stronger the further away from 2017 he gets. He is making the adjustments he needs to make. He is also going to start getting expensive.

In 2019, his first year of arbitration, he made $2.625 million. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Matz is slated to essentially double his salary to $5.3 million. If he is the pitcher he was from the middle of July to the end of the season, that number is going to skyrocket in 2021.

At the moment, the Mets have a very low baseline with Matz, and it’s very possible this will be the cheapest he will ever be. By seeking to lock him up now, the Mets will have some cost certainty on someone who has been getting stronger and promises to improve. They’re securing a spot in their rotation at a time when they could potentially lose 4/5 of their rotation over a three year span.

Moreover, by extending Matz now, the Mets are getting some cost certainty. Locking up Matz on the lower end should allow them to turn their attention to the rest of the rotation as well as a player like Michael Conforto, who will hit free agency the same time as Syndergaard and Matz.

Overall, Matz is a homegrown Met who grew up a Mets fan. While he has not been the pitcher many expected when his grandfather was jumping up and down in the stands, he has proved himself to be a useful Major League starter, and he is someone who could well be part of the equation over the next five years. With him likely being at his cheapest now, this is the right time to look to extend him.

15 thoughts on “Mets Should Extend Steven Matz Now”

  1. oldbackstop says:

    Uh….was there a number in there I missed? I strongly agree at some price point, strongly disagree on others.

    You have to say a number.

    And this is a guy projected by BR to be 8-10 with an ERA in the fours. The price point needs to be the FA market for a 3-4 starter.

    Lets hear it. Bucks and years.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Personally, I’d go five years for $45 million or something like that.

    2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      The problem with Matz is that he’s a #5-6 on a contender. Compared with the guys who slot in at #4 on teams that make the postseason, Matz isn’t particularly close to those pitchers.

      His results since 2017 have been similar to Jason Vargas, and at the point the Mets gave Vargas to the Phillies and paid his salary in an amusing effort to lose the wildcard Vargas had been a hair better than Matz from the beginning of 2017 through that point, and a hair better than Matz from the beginning of 2019 through that point.

      If the modest margin that separates Matz and Vargas is the last two months of 2019, we’re not talking someone you want to put much stock in. Still, given the Mets are watching their rotation slip away (Stroman after 2020, Matz and Syndergaard after 2021), so offering Matz an extension is a sensible idea. You always want to hang onto your productive players when they’re slipping through your fingers.

      The Mets need a #5-6 starter. That’s Matz. The problem is that the Mets have been pretending Matz is a #4 starter. He’s not. He does have a little upside, though, in addition to the wishful thinking of casual fans. A 3/21m extension starting in 2022 with a club option at something like 1/10m is probably in the ballpark of what the team should offer. Kyle Gibson’s better than Matz, and he got 3/30m. Matz doesn’t deserve a 10m AAV.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        Matz is better than a 5-6, and he’s much better than Vargas.

        As we saw with Vargas, even a terrible starter is going to cost at least $8 million and likely more.

        You lock up the pieces you can and address what you can.

        1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

          @metsdaddy Make all the assertions you want in the teeth of facts anyone can look up–including you.
          Why you do this is a mystery, however.

          By the way, you’re also up to your old tricks. I wrote,

          “The problem with Matz is that he’s a #5-6 on a contender,” which was the obvious context of the rest of my post–but in order to score a cheap rhetorical point you subverted my meaning, writing “Matz is better than a 5-6.”

          You really should stop. It’s a chronic, bad habit of yours that you indulge in to try to win arguments you can’t win otherwise. Misstating what others write, misconstruing their points, is very bad form. Intellectual integrity demands that you stop. Cheers.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            I didn’t misstate or misconstrue anything, and I’ll note trying to change your point post hoc offends the supposed intellectual integrity you seek

      2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        @ fwiw, my post isn’t a reply to anyone. For some reason it didn’t post at the bottom of the page.

  2. oldbackstop says:

    That’s not bad. Gotta be frugal, because you will be setting the bar on Stroman and Thor if you do Matz first.

    The logic would be to lock up Thor, then Stroman, then Matz. Those two have serious solo trade value. That has to actually be entered into the equation basically as a number (and no non-trade clause)

    If you give Matz what do you give Thor and Stroman?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Syndergaard should get near deGrom money, and as for Stroman, I’m not sure. I’ll have to look more.

  3. oldbackstop says:

    The problem logically is this….if the Wilpons are interested in retaining their pitching….where’s Wheeler?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Too expensive

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Well, what will they think of Thir? Does he r es ally deserve deGrom num BBC ers? I dont doubt he’d get it in the market, but….he hasn’t exactly been deGrom.

        Stroman would be worth more than Matz, less than Thor. So what is the AAV for the top four a few years out…29, 25, 15, 9….wild guess? 78 mill for them, 20 more for Cano. 100 mil for those five. Conforto, Rosario, Alonso, Nimmo, Lugo, are all looking at big arb bumps.

        So what can we afford in finding a number 5? 45/3?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You do have to remember deGrom is four years older, and he did sign for a pretty significant discount.

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            True

            So what are you saying for Thor? 6/140?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            That’s the right ballpark

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