Jacob deGrom and his agent, Jeff Berry, have given the Mets a deadline of Opening Day this year to complete a long-term contract. His camp has further informed the team that he will not negotiate with the team once the season has started according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Per another source, the Mets have yet to make an offer to deGrom even though he was told two months ago that an offer would be forthcoming and some tension could be setting in between the two sides.
DeGrom, 30, is the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner. He received a record raise before arbitration talks last month receiving $17 million for the 2019 season after earning $7.4 million in 2018. This after a year where deGrom pitched to a 1.70 ERA and had many experts calling his 2018 season one of the greatest seasons ever by a starting pitcher.
Jeff Berry met with Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon at the Winter Meetings to discuss deGrom’s future but no headway was made in contact negotiations. Berry took over as deGrom’s agent from Brodie Van Wagenen who is now the team’s general manager. Van Wagenen has recused himself from any negotiations with deGrom to avoid a potential conflict of interest. But he did say at last year’s All-Star break that the Mets should extend deGrom’s contract or trade him.
DeGrom will become a free agent after the 2020 season. He can still seek to negotiate a deal that would buy out his remaining arbitration year and extend his contract to a long-term deal. He can also negotiate at the conclusion of the 2019 season but there would be an air of uncertainty around deGrom for the entire season about his future contract status with the Mets.
Berry, for his part, recently released a memo for players looking for reform in free agency after two slow off-seasons. For pitchers, he suggested a cap on their workloads during a season before any negotiation to help maintain the high value of the player. According to Puma, deGrom could put such a restriction on himself if a new deal isn’t reached.
Yesterday, during an interview with WFAN, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen praised deGrom but could not confirm the two sides would reach an extension agreement this Spring, but that it could happen in the future.
“Our goal is definitely to have him be a part of this team’s future beyond the two years that he has remaining under his control,” Van Wagenen told Mike Francesa. “He knows we want him to be a part of it. Whether or not we can ultimately agree on something, or whether the timing is now or whether it’s down the road, there will be no mistaking the fact that he is a franchise player for us now and we hope for years and years to come.”
After a fairly quiet winter, it appears some uneasy feelings are developing between the two sides with regard to deGrom contract negotiations. One can only hope that there will be no lingering effects in the upcoming season as the starting pitching is the Mets strength and their ace is a vital part of the Mets’ starting pitching. Hopefully, a resolution will ensue soon so the concentration will be on baseball and not on front office issues as has happened so frequently in the past.