Jon Niese’s Wise 2012 Decision

jon niese

After a disabled list stint with shoulder issues last season and a spring training that’s already been plagued by shoulder weakness and now an elbow issue, the long term future of Jon Niese can start to be questioned. Is this the beginning of a chronic issue that will plague him for the rest of his career or is this just a blip on the radar?

This is the reason that players sign the kind of contract that Niese signed in April of 2012. The Mets and Niese agreed to a 5 year, $25.5 million contract that ran thorough the 2016 season with two team options for 2017 ($10 million) and 2018 for ($10.5 million) and $500,000 buyouts for each season.

Both sides had to weigh the risk/reward factors. Niese would give up the opportunity to potentially make millions more in arbitration and eventually free agency were he to become a solid innings eater/top tier pitcher and stay healthy for the entire ride. The Mets would get a very team friendly deal. but would run the risk of owing millions to a pitcher who breaks down or not meet expectations.

By signing the team friendly contract, Niese is financially secure and can focus on being the best pitcher he can possibly be. He may be leaving potential money on the table, but should his body break down (and it’s beginning to look as if it might be), he protects himself.

By offering him the guaranteed money at what could be below market value, the Mets had the opportunity to lock down what could be a rotation linchpin for years to come.

Sometimes the player looks like the smart one. Sometimes the team looks like the smart one. Remember David Wright‘s first long term contract?)

Right now, Niese is probably very relieved he signed that contract. Dealing with the uncertainty of injury is hard enough, especially in a profession where your entire future can change on one pitch.

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About Roger N - Big Mets Fan 128 Articles
Roger is a lifelong Mets fan since 1981, now married with kids and still knows that there is no such thing as a bad day at the ballpark with your child. Growing up, he wanted to be either the Second Baseman for the Mets - or their statistician. Follow him at @BigMetsFan1. email him at metsfanontwitter@aol.com
  • Randolph Scott

    Niese was cruising along fine until he got his beak fixed ….. the mole is responsible for this !!

    All kidding aside, I root for him & wish him the best, reminds me of another lefty named Jon from a long time ago.

  • Taskmaster4450

    It is easy to get caught up in the huge numbers which are thrown around in professional sports. However, when put in perspective, it is hard for these guys to realistically walk away from this guaranteed cash. $25M is a helluva lot of money and set Niese, a guy in his 20s, up for life. Sure it is different from $50M or $75M but still, keep it real. He is earning $5M this year which sounds like chump change. Yet when you consider the major league pay cycle is about 180 days, that means Niese is earning $27,777 each day.

    With all the injuries derailing careers, it is smart to take the cash when it is offered. Harvey learned a valuable lesson. He was thinking $200M contract; now he might be open to something different.

  • Hodges14

    Aside from 2012 Niese has spent time on the DL every season. His durability is terrible. He was smart to sign the contract when he did.

  • ro7a

    and at the time I remember thinking what an unwise decision it was for the Mets. Never saw anything other than bottom of the rotation stuff for this guy even when he’s completely healthy which he never is.

  • Agee’s Catch

    Considering what other pitchers are getting, Neise is a bargain. Best cae scenario he slots in as our fifth starter and we can wait until mid April to have him pitch. Worst case he has Tommy John Surgery. If I had to hazard a guess, he gets shut down for a few weeks and makes his 20414 debut in May. This would be a good time to see what we have in Jacob deGrom. He could become a valuable trade chip if he performs well against big league pitching.

  • BronxMets

    I agree and I am not sure where I find this contract team friendly????

  • Hodges14

    I disagree. You are thinking Niese is a bargain assuming he’s going to pitch. It’s not a bargain to pay a guy to be on the DL and Niese is on the DL every year. He’s basically a 160 innings per season pitcher. You can’t count on him to be available.

  • Hodges14

    Exactly. Why would paying a guy any amount to be on the DL be considered team friendly?

  • Hodges14

    Hoping you don’t mean Matlack. There’s really not much of a comparison there. In Matlack’s first 5 full major league seasons he threw 244, 242, 265, 228, and 262 innings. In those years his worst season for WHIP was 1.277 and 3 times he was below 1.2. His worst era in those 5 years was 3.38. In 3 of those seasons his era was below 3.00. He was a much better and durable pitcher than Niese has been over a similar time frame.

  • Randolph Scott

    yes I do, as they both are slightly awkward lefty’s with the same spelled first name, that’s all I meant, just a general observation …… sorta like how DW reminds me of Ron Cey when he runs.

  • Hodges14

    lol… the penguin.

  • dan

    If Niese is hurt for a good deal of time I hope that we get to see at least on youngster at the back end of the rotation. I do not want to see Lannan and DiceK as 4 and 5. I’d like to see Lannan in the bullpen and Mejia and Montero in the rotation.

  • RyanF55

    Niese at 5 million a year is a complete bargain, even with the recent health issues. Let’s put things in perspective here….Mike Pelfrey, who posted a 5.19 ERA over 29 games last year, landed a 2 year, 11 million dollar deal, making 5.5 million per year. He’s making more than Niese, who posted a 3.71 ERA over 24 games last season. He’s ability/potential vs. what he’s making, compared with the rest of the League and out of the financial disaster bubble that-is the New York Mets, Niese is still a steal.

  • WillisReid

    Put him in the bullpen and get $5mm/yr worth of appearances out of him.

  • Hodges14

    Also consider though that with Niese you need to pay another pitcher to stand in for him during his inevitable DL stints.

  • Hodges14

    Sometimes that’s harder on a pitcher than being in the rotation. The starter has a set routine and knows he’s going to pitch once every 5 days. The reliever might pitch multiple times per week and might have to warmup in a hurry.

  • WillisReid

    True. But by summer, he could be the weakest arm in the rotation. By next year, he might not even have a spot in the rotation. Maybe they move him over the winter when he’s not a pitch away from the DL.

  • Hodges14

    Yeah… I suspect they have missed the window on that. His trade value has to be pretty low in comparison to what he could have fetched a year ago.

  • Biggle Boy

    2013: Shoulder discomfort. MRI: Rotator cuff tear. No surgery. Misses 51 days.
    2014 ST: Weakness in shoulder. MRI: clean. No surgery needed.
    2014 ST: Elbow pain. MRI: Results to follow…

    Got the feeling that one of these days an MRI will, in fact, show surgery’s needed.

  • Erin_II

    Dude, it`s 5 mil., though. We`re going to pay Chris Young 7.5 to strike out 150 times in 500 ab. Plus we have Lannan to step in for Niese getting only a half mil. 5 mil. is a hell of a bargain with the way the market exploded this past winter. What would he be making right now in arbitration?

  • WillisReid

    So then what do you do with you’re 6th best starting pitcher that makes $5mm a year with little trade value?

  • Hodges14

    If CY is the benchmark then every player in MLB is a bargain. It’s not just having to have 2 pitchers with Niese, it’s the lost innings/performance. It doesn’t really matter so much with the Mets as they are not trying to win but if they were it’s not a team friendly contract to have an unreliable guy in the rotation.

  • Hodges14

    I suspect he’s going to end up on the DL like every other year. I just don’t think “team friendly” is a good description for Niese’s contract. I don’t see it with what he has produced.

  • Erin_II

    I still think he`ll be alright for opening day, and, IMO, if he makes 15-20 healthy starts, you easily get your 5 million in value back from him. Niese is not as bad as you are making him out to be, fragile or not.

  • MikeyT

    Agreed – its clear his arm is a ticking time bomb

  • Erin_II

    #BlametheMole

  • WillisReid

    I think it was team friendly before they actually had some organizational depth that was better and cheaper. By next year he’s John Lannan for this team.

  • RyanF55

    He started 24 games last year its not like he was out all season or missed even that much of significant amount of time.

  • RyanF55

    You drastically overstate his lack of durability. Games started:

    2010: 30
    2011: 26
    2012: 30
    2013: 24

  • Biggle Boy

    Pitching coaches say that throwing a breaking ball is toughest on your arm. Niese never had the explosive heater. The big curve was what seemed to set him apart. Maybe all those breaking pitches have taken their toll?

  • RyanF55

    Exactly…5 million is a joke for any sub- 4 ERA pitcher, especially one that pitched over 140 innings last year…let’s get real. Looking at reality is comparing his contract/performance to other players contract/performance….he’s a bargain undoubtedly, similar to Murphy.

  • Erin_II

    Couldn`t agree more. Happy St. Patrick`s Day!

  • RyanF55

    And I believe much of that is that he was poorly handled by Mets medical staff

  • RyanF55

    Gurab amhlaidh duit!

  • Bill Buckner

    Agreed and I am inclined to believe that if he had the surgery in 2013 rather than just resting it, he would have been better off. Obviously, a TJ surgery does not guarantee that there will be no future elbow problems, but Medlen and Beachy needing a 2nd TJ surgery sure seem to be in the minority when you consider how many guys in the league have had TJ surgery before.

  • Hodges14

    200 inning seasons: 0
    175 inning seasons: 1

    Years on the DL… everyone except 2012.

  • The moment he’s healthy of 2-3 months at a time, he becomes the most prime candidate for a trade. Here’s to hoping we get positive news on the MRI.

  • StrawberryPiazzaWright

    Niese would be a steal if he remained healthy throughout the contract, which is not the case. He has been gettin injured pretty much since he was brought up by the Mets (remember the nasty hamstring injury?). That is the point being made, he breaks down way too much, so no, he is not a steal.

  • Hodges14

    The time to trade him was a year ago. Now with the rotator cuff last summer and the shoulder and elbow pain this spring who is going to give up anything of value for him?

  • RyanF55

    And he started over 24 games in each season. To an ERA under 4, for under 5 million.

  • Joey D.

    Anyone ever think about it in terms of what they would have done if a young player in Niese’s position? My own gut instinct is that I would have signed the contract like he did because even in my youth I was always cautious and shied away from risk factors (a polite way of saying I was too scared and chicken – LOL).

    It’s like my pension which is not invested in stocks. For younger people that does not present as big a risk because stocks have a way of balancing themselves out but for those closer to retirement there is not that time cushion. Nevertheless, chicken little here never did dabble in the stock market with his. Prior to the recession many of my fellow “baby boomers” were telling me how much more I could have been making before they began having sleepless nights while the only thing keeping me awake was a game from the west coast. 🙂

  • Big Mets Fan

    I know I would have taken the money for the security. Evan Longoria did the same thing as well for security and cashed in majorly on his next one.

  • Oh I agree with you. I’m just hoping a good half a season rebuilds his value. And I’m not as worried about the return, it should be pretty solid if he has said success because he’s still a lefty with a good contract. And…on a team with gaping holes offensively, he should be able to net us at least on significant upgrade somewhere on the diamond.

  • Joey D.

    Hi Big Mets Fan,

    We’re seeing it happen with Drew just as we did with Cruz, even though let’s not feel sorry for either of those two from a financial standpoint at least. They gambled by not taking either the qualifying offers or offers made to them (assuming there were) this past off season and one signed for a little more than a .200 hitter and the other is still looking for a team.