As we all marvel at the incredible display of pitching Jacob deGrom puts on every five days, we must not forget that the most important Mets player since David Wright could walk away from the team after next season. The Mets cannot let that happen, so there have reportedly already been talks about a contract extension that would surely erase the opt-out. But what would an extension look like?
The Mets will pay deGrom $33.5 million next season, and if he doesn’t opt out, $30.5 million in 2023 along with a club option for $32.5 million in 2024. deGrom turns 33 in June, which means his contract (including the option) runs through his age 36 season. That was smart by the Mets because players historically tail off after turning 35. But deGrom is somehow getting better as he gets older, so while locking him up for a few more years after 35 does carry some risks, the Mets can probably feel comfortable that his performance won’t fall off a cliff.
So what would it cost the Mets? Well, they were apparently willing to give Trevor Bauer $40 million, so that’s a good place to start. Let’s say the Mets get rid of the option and tack on three years at $40 million per season. That would take deGrom through the 2026 season, during which he would turn 38. deGrom might want more years, but it is reasonable for the Mets to stop there. After all, does anyone expect any pitcher to post sub-2.00 ERAs at age 40?
At deGrom’s age, a $120 million extension seems fair. He would be the highest paid pitcher ever by annual amount, which also seems fair considering what he has done over the past few seasons. Combining his original five-year, $137.5 million contract with the extension, the Mets would pay deGrom $257.5 million over eight seasons, an average of more than $32 million per season. Again, at his age, that seems to be good value for the player and the team.
Let’s see if the Mets can get this done before the opt-out drama dominates the 2022 season. It would be an unneeded distraction for a team hoping to win (defend?!) a championship.