The following six to seven weeks figure to bear out plenty of extensions, and there figures to be a good bit of focus on the Mets’ young rotation in that time. Comments made by right-hander Jacob deGrom to the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan only figure to fuel that talk, as deGrom told Kernan that he’s open to exploring a long-term deal with the Mets and gave some details into his reasoning:
“I’m a little bit older so I might be more willing to do something like that. You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it. … I haven’t thought that much about it and I have to talk to my agents and stuff and look at the numbers and decide what was favorable.”
At 27 years old and with just one year, 139 days of Major League service time under his belt, deGrom is indeed a late bloomer and thus older than the typical extension candidate. His service time makes him a strong candidate to reach Super Two status next winter, giving the Mets good reason to look to lock him up now, as deGrom’s urgency to do so will decrease in each subsequent year as he gains continued financial security and moves closer to free agency. Also due to his relatively advanced age, the allure of eventually reaching free agency for deGrom might not be as tantalizing as it would for a pitcher that is set to hit free agency at a more typical age of 29 or 30. Under control through the 2020 season, deGrom wouldn’t hit the open market until the offseason preceding his age-33 season. While there’d still be plenty of money to be made if he can continue his current trajectory (especially when imagining how the market might progress over the next half-decade), his chances at landing the type of five- or six-year deal that top free-agent pitchers often command will be naturally curbed due to his age.
Madison Bumgarner still holds the contractual record for a starting pitcher with between one and two years of Major League service time at a guarantee of $35MM over five years (as can be seen in MLBTR’s Extension Tracker). That deal also contained a pair of club options that could push the contract’s value to a total of $57.5MM (or slightly greater, depending on his finishes in the Cy Young voting). That deal, though, is nearly four years old, and deGrom and his agents at CAA would seem to have a case to set a new precedent for pitchers in the one-plus service time class. Bumgarner, after all, had amassed a 3.10 ERA in 325 2/3 innings at the time of his extension, whereas deGrom has a 2.61 career ERA in 331 1/3 innings. The dramatically superior ERA and strikeout rates, in addition to the fact that deGrom has three more career wins and a slight edge in total innings pitched, would give him a superior bargaining platform in arbitration than the one that Bumgarner would have held. deGrom is also a likelier candidate to reach Super Two status than was Bumgarner (who would’ve had 2.127 year of service after the 2012 season).
Others in the Mets’ rotation, specifically Matt Harvey but also younger arms Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, could theoretically be extension candidates as well. However, Harvey is already in agreement on a $4.35MM salary for the upcoming season and, as a Scott Boras client, seemingly less likely to broker a long-term commitment that buys out any of his highly valuable free-agent years at any type of discount rate. Syndergaard and Matz both have less than one year of Major League service time, so the team needn’t feel overly urgent to lock either starter down, and the pair may want to further establish themselves before committing to an extension with only brief (albeit impressive) track records in the Majors.