There has been a cavalcade of extensions across Major League Baseball this spring, but it doesn’t appear Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom will become the latest star to ink a new deal. Speaking about his future Saturday, deGrom told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Tim Healey of Newsday and other reporters that his optimism about signing before his self-imposed Opening Day deadline on March 28 is fading.
As recently as March 13, the reigning National League Cy Young winner seemed hopeful about landing a long-term pact by the opener. But deGrom said Saturday he’s “probably not as [optimistic]” an agreement between his camp and the Mets will materialize in time for the season. At that point, the 30-year-old will be more concerned about on-field matters.
“I don’t know where it’s going to end up,” deGrom said. “I’ve really not been trying to think about it. Yeah, I said I wanted to get something done, but it’s getting close to Opening Day and I think my focus is on that right now.”
While talks haven’t gone to his liking, they’re still ongoing, according to deGrom, who again noted he’d like to remain with the Mets. That being the case, it seems there’s still hope they’ll reach an 11th-hour deal. To this point, though, the Mets have reportedly been leery of committing a sizable payday to deGrom – who, despite the brilliance he has displayed since debuting in 2014, doesn’t have all the leverage here. After all, not only is deGrom on the wrong side of 30, but he’s a past Tommy John surgery recipient whom the Mets aren’t at risk of losing to free agency until after the 2020 campaign. Conversely, fellow veteran aces Chris Sale and Justin Verlander were only a year from free agency when they signed extensions this week, thereby increasing their teams’ urgency to lock them up.
Asked if he’s comparable to Sale, whom the Red Sox awarded a five-year, $145MM guarantee, deGrom said: “I don’t know. He’s a little bit closer to free agency. I’d have to sit down with my agents again and go over some things to really fully understand where we’d like to be.”
Last July, as deGrom was amid a season for the ages, his former agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, implored the Mets to either trade the ace or extend him. The Mets didn’t oblige in either case, though they did make the outside-the-box decision in October to hire Van Wagenen as their general manager. Van Wagenen entered into the position with keen insight into deGrom’s circumstances, then, and as a former bigwig at CAA Sports, he’s familiar with the hurler’s new representatives, Jeff Berry and Matt Ricatto. Nevertheless, the parties haven’t been able to hammer anything out, and if deGrom’s deadline holds, they’ll either wait until next offseason to revisit contract talks or table them altogether. By then, deGrom could be heading into his final winter of arbitration eligibility. He and the Mets avoided the arbitration process this past January by agreeing to a record-setting $17MM salary for 2019.