The Mets have two days to negotiate a contract extension with Jacob deGrom before his self-imposed Opening Day deadline hits. It might happen, but only if Jacob deGrom blinks.
When baseball historians look back on this off-season, it will be marked as the moment players became afraid of free agency. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper eventually got their money, but only after some agonizing and probably scary months. But guys like Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel, two of the best at their positions, are still unemployed.
Players received the message loud and clear that owners are now treating free agency very differently than in their free-spending past. Which is why Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt — probably the best at their respective positions –and others signed lucrative extensions with their current teams.
The Mets can only hope Jacob deGrom is watching and will take the sure cash rather than gamble on free agency and end up like Keuchel (it should be noted that Keuchel just turned 31 and deGrom will be 32 if he chooses to roam free after the 2020 season).
So what is fair for both sides? I think five years at $25 million per season should do it. If you add in this year’s $17 million salary, he would essentially be signing for 6 years, $142 million. That’s roughly what Patrick Corbin got from the Nationals this off-season. And while deGrom is better than Corbin, Corbin is a year younger. This prospective contract would take deGrom through his 36th birthday, while Corbin’s takes him through 34. That’s actually a pretty big deal.
So will it happen? If deGrom were one year away from free agency, I think it would. But there really is no rush; he can do it next off-season. And besides, if he puts together another Cy Young-caliber season (hopefully with more wins this time!), he would raise his price tag even higher. And if he regresses a bit, he would still get his payday.