Yesterday while we were all just getting ready to root against Bryce Harper in the Home Run Derby, Jacob deGrom’s agent Brodie Van Wagenen dropped a bombshell to reporters in D.C. Van Wagenen had the below to say about Jacob deGrom and his future with the Mets:
“We have discussed Jacob’s future with the Mets at length. Jacob has expressed interest in exploring a long-term partnership that would keep him in a Mets uniform for years to come. If the Mets don’t share the same interest, we believe their best course of action is to seriously consider trade opportunities now. The inertia of the current situation could complicate Jacob’s relationship with the club and creates an atmosphere of indecision.”
Let us go at this from all angles. The Mets and the firm that Van Wagenen works for, CAA, have a lengthy history of working together, most recently the big contract for Yoenis Cespedes. Among other clients that currently are with the Mets and CAA you have deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, Tim Tebow and Noah Syndergaard. There is no shortage of conversation and a seemingly good working history between the Mets and CAA. I was initially taken back by these comments in part due to the working relationship the two have. This tells me that there has indeed been contractual conversations that the Mets likely were not too receptive to and it came to the level of publicly putting it out there to put pressure on them to talk.
Who can blame the Mets? deGrom is under team control through the 2020 season. They technically have no need to give deGrom the extension or trade he seeks due to the current contractual structure in place in Major League Baseball. With that said, in baseball and professional sports, franchises tend to reward their biggest stars at the proper time. The Mets do not operate like the typical franchise with payroll constraints and other factors that are for a different article on a different day. They have not been opposed to paying market value for in-house stars such as David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, and it should be no different with deGrom.
Jacob deGrom - “I’ve enjoyed my time with the @Mets ... I would like a long term contract....I would love to play my whole career here....I think we can get better in the future as a team - and get back to where we were!” pic.twitter.com/kDe9KzUCtS— Bruce Beck (@BruceBeck4NY) July 16, 2018
Before I break down how exactly I would handle it if I ran the Mets, let us run through the trade possibility. Whether you are following things via Twitter or Facebook or watching SNY or listening to WFAN, you’ve heard probably every trade proposal under the sun for deGrom. If the Mets were to at all consider trading deGrom, this demand from CAA conveniently two weeks before the deadline should and likely will not have any impact on the Mets decisions come July 31st. As many others have pointed out, the return would have to be SO great (think Gleyber Torres in the deal from the Yankees) that it simply is not in the cards right now. If trading deGrom and not extending him is the long term plan, then waiting until the off-season where you likely can have a much wider range of suitors would be the prudent move.
So what should the Mets do? David Ortiz said it perfectly: PAY THE MAN! While yes the Mets do not HAVE to do anything with deGrom, it feels like the right thing to do for multiple reasons. deGrom is currently 30 years old pitching as one of the best pitchers in baseball while making just a tick under $8 million for the 2018 season. He would get raises via arbitration the next two years, but definitely not at the rate he deserves. If deGrom were to wait until his free agency, at age 32, it will limit the length and dollar amount that he is likely to receive with the way teams are handling free agency current day. If you combined his age with the rates he likely would be paid via arbitration to go with the health risk that go with being a pitcher, you might be able to lock deGrom up for essentially the rest of his career at a market rate for his skill set. I think if you were the Mets and you went to Jacob deGrom with a contract offer of 5 years at $125 million with a 6th year team option that could bring the value to $150 million ($25 million per season) he would accept. That would put deGrom below the David Price and Clayton Kershaw type of money, but would still pay him very highly and give him the security he desires at this stage of his career and would keep him under Mets control if they wish until deGrom is 36 years old.
The Mets need to not mess this up. They do not need to be trading Jacob deGrom, they need to be extending Jacob deGrom. I believe that deGrom is the type that has a better chance to age well as he is more of a true pitcher than a thrower. Even if he gets to the eventual downtick in velocity, I do not believe it would destroy him like it has other players. He is a great teammate, handles New York and frankly keeps his mouth shut and does his job. He is the perfect candidate for a long term deal, not a trade. As David Ortiz said, PAY THE MAN!