Over the past few seasons, there’s been occasional talk of a potential long-term deal between the Mets and ace Jacob deGrom, though clearly nothing between the two sides has ever come together. With that in mind, deGrom’s agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Baseball, offered a candid take on his client’s future to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic today (Twitter links).
“We have discussed Jacob’s future with the Mets at length,” said Van Wagenen. “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 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.”
Van Wagenen adds in a followup to Joel Sherman of the New York Post that his statement is “not a demand for a trade” and is in fact more an expression on his client’s behalf that he’d like to remain with the organization for the long term (Twitter link). Nonetheless, the public nature of those comments only puts further pressure on the current iteration of the Mets’ front office to act in a more decisive manner. And it only furthers the already strong likelihood that if deGrom is not traded in the next couple of weeks that he’ll be a prominent trade target for teams in the 2018-19 offseason — adding another layer of complexity to a winter that will feature one of the more impressive free-agent classes in recent memory.
However, while Van Wagenen’s comments are fairly straightforward and aggressive in tone, deGrom himself unsurprisingly struck a softer tone at today’s All-Star festivities (Twitter links via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). Asked about Van Wagenen’s statements, deGrom replied:
“We’ve been open to discussing long-term deals with the Mets. There’s been no numbers discussed, and I’ve enjoyed my time here. … I would love it to be here with the Mets. We’ll just have to see what happens. … I would love to play here for my whole career. I think it’s just kind of deciding what we see as the future. It’s something that’s in the Mets’ control, and kind of out of mine.”
It’s certainly telling to hear deGrom himself flatly state that the two sides have never even progressed to the point where they’ve talked about even loose parameters of a contract. Certainly, it’s not likely that the Mets and deGrom will hammer out what would assuredly be a nine-figure extension in the next couple of weeks. Such negotiations would be complex, and the Mets’ front-office trio of John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya will be dedicating a considerable amount of time and energy to trading other players even if the plan is to eventually talk long-term deal with deGrom.
It should be noted, of course, that these types of comments from agents don’t always serve as a catalyst to facilitate a deal. While Christian Yelich was moved this offseason not long after agent Joe Longo made comments similar in tone to those of Van Wagenen today, that wasn’t the case for J.T. Realmuto. In fact, Realmuto is also repped by CAA, and agent Jeff Berry told the Miami Herald back in February that Realmuto preferred to be moved. Realmuto, of course, is still in Miami and enjoying the best season of his career.
The 30-year-old deGrom is under club control, via the arbitration process, through 2020. He’s already earning $7.4MM, and with one of the strongest arb cases in quite some time taking shape, he could find his salary to be pushing $20MM by the end of those remaining arbitration years. It stands to reason that any extension talks would have to be of at least five years in length, though presumably deGrom’s camp would push for a lengthier pact, given the six- and even seven-year deals landed by some of the game’s top pitchers in recent seasons. Locking up deGrom could quite likely push the Mets into a new franchise-record contract; David Wright currently holds that distinction at $138MM (over an eight-year term).