Yeah, You’re Reading This Right: The Mets lock down deGrom to a 5-year extension

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FILE – In this March 12, 2019, file photo, New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) pitches during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins, in Jupiter, Fla. deGrom is expected to start Opening Day against the Washington Nationals. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP, File)

By God, they actually did it.

As player extensions were being signed left and right over the past few weeks, the calamity only continued to grow around an already restless fanbase. Noah Syndergaard complained about it. Mets fans complained about it. Even some media personalities complained about it.

But on Tuesday, Jacob deGrom and the Mets agreed to one of the most lucrative deals in franchise history — a five-year, $137.5 million contract including a no-trade clause with a club option for 2024 that could bring the deal’s value to $170 million.

In July, deGrom’s agent Brodie Van Wagenen demanded that the Mets either pay him or trade him. Eight months later, as team GM, he was able to ink a deal that pleased both sides: deGrom got his money and the Mets got their next Met for life.

“The fans have treated me great,” deGrom told MLB.com. “I enjoy taking the mound at Citi Field in the front of them, and it’s rare that a guy spends his career with one team.”

It’s the biggest deal since David Wright signed for an eight-year, $138 million extension in the 2012 offseason. Just months removed from Wright’s retirement, deGrom’s deal is more than just a good bargain—it was essential to lock up the next franchise player.

The Mets have only had a handful of those type of players in their 57 years of existence — Tom Seaver is the obvious names that come to mind. But of the best 10 homegrown Mets in order of WAR, Wright was the only one who stayed with the Mets from beginning to end.

DeGrom, who will be 36 by the time the deal expires, has a chance to not only cement himself as a top-10 Met of all-time, but one of the best homegrown Mets to ever wear orange and blue. He made history last year by winning the Cy Young award with a 10-9 record and a 1.70 ERA. He threw a Major League-record 24 consecutive quality starts and 29 straight starts of giving up three runs or fewer. Even with the low likelihood of him repeating a season like this in 2019, he is still easily a top-three pitcher in the game.

It wasn’t an easy road, though. It ultimately fell on Van Wagenen’s shoulders to orchestrate a deal that he demanded in the first place. It was different behind the desk instead of in front of it, and over the course of a few days, deGrom was optimistic, pessimistic and optimistic about a deal getting done.

Plus, there wasn’t necessarily a reason the deal needed to be completed now with two years left before free agency. But the Mets would have paid him more in arbitration, and who knows how much the market would have demanded he be paid in 2021 with no guarantee he’d want to stay in New York.

With the Opening Day deadline set by the deGrom camp at the beginning of the offseason and the outcries from a fanbase that desperately wants the team to capitalize on this window, the Mets were really only left with one choice.

Now, the Mets will have Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Edwin Diaz to build around. And when future free agents are considering playing in Queens, they’ll see how the Mets took care of their own, especially during a tumultuous time where players and owners are at odds.

Justin Verlander, Blake Snell and Chris Sale — three of the game’s premiere pitchers — recently signed extensions with their respective teams. At that point, all eyes were on the Mets to turn talks into dollars, and at first they offered a three-year, $88 million extension, which did not satisfy deGrom at all. So the Mets negotiated and struck a happy medium, ultimately spending less money now to save room for future signings and extending deGrom long enough to get the most out of him.

This didn’t have to happen. But the fan backlash would have been unbearable — so unbearable that it would have easily found its way into the clubhouse and become another “that’s so Mets” storyline as the weight of an undone deal would have shadowed every start deGrom made. It certainly wasn’t the wrong move, though, even if a player his age has never been signed to an extension that big before. We all know that Mets ownership never spends, and in the current environment of everyone getting extensions, it would have been horribly on-brand for the Mets to remain the one team to sit on the sidelines.

Say what you will about Van Wagenen’s first offseason as GM, but he did something that previous GMs have largely failed to do in the past — actually make Mets fans happy.


Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.

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