Jacob deGrom expects the Mets to grant him an extension. The Mets would like to give him one. But in between, there is so much more…
Jacob deGrom, based on the historic season he had that culminated as the fourth pitcher in Mets history to win the coveted Cy Young Award, has risen to a level separating himself as not only as the face of the franchise but as the single most consequential player on the team in 2019.
As Jacob deGrom goes, so will the Mets in 2019. For the Mets to live up to the bravado of their GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, as “the team to catch” in the NL East, deGrom, while not needing a repeat of his extraordinary season, must come close. And beyond that, deGrom must stay healthy enough to take his turn every fifth day, making 25-30 starts with no hiccups in-between.
Forget for the moment that you are Van Wagenen representing the Mets in talks to extend deGrom before he reaches free agency in 2021. Instead, pretend you are deGrom, soon to be 31 in June and looking forward to your free agency year when you will be going on 33.
You have a recent marriage to your wife Stacy, and you are the proud father of Jaxson Anthony deGrom. Chances are the couple are thinking of more deGrom’s but for the moment your family’s future in entirely on your shoulders.
Shoulders that could end your career on the next pitch you throw. Or, it might be an elbow requiring Tommy John, an experience you’ve already undergone once before in your career.
That was then, but this is now. And if you are Jacob deGrom, are you willing to risk it all without a guaranteed contract, which most overwhelmingly would say you deserve, one that would carry you through the next four years (minimum)? And most importantly, an agreement that ensures your family’s security, regardless of what happens over that span.
I ask these questions because as fans we tend to not go beyond the robots who perform for us as entertainment on the field, forgetting they are human beings just like us trying to make their way through the complex strains we call life.
So there’s Jacob deGrom, and then there are the Mets who come at the issue (obviously) from a different perspective. To wit, the Mets have a pitcher, who by most definitions is pitching the final year of his “prime” at age 31 in 2019. He has a medical history that is documented. And he has the character of a bulldog when he’s on the mound, giving all he has to every pitch he throws.
Are you (the Mets) ready to commit to a David Price (7 years – $127 Million), Max Scherzer (7-years – $210 Million) contract, all signed when they were 30, to Jacob deGrom? Results are mixed, aren’t they? Scherzer is rolling along, but Price until the 2018 World Series has looked like a bust for the Red Sox.
With pitchers, and especially starting pitchers, you just can’t tell.
Which leaves us where? Interestingly, Jacob deGrom unwittingly might have provided us with an answer if he and the Mets cannot get together on an extension.
Again, put yourself in the shoes of Jacob deGrom and establish your mindset as this. No, extension? Okay, then don’t be surprised if I pull myself out of a game after the sixth inning rather than risking injury because I am fatigued and not feeling quite right. Oh dear, a can of worms opening there, right?
But shouldn’t Jacob deGrom have the right to protect himself as the breadwinner in his family in this way, doing what HE can to help ensure that when he reaches free agency, he is healthy, and not in an 18-month rehab from another, and this time, career-ending Tommy John?
The latest from both sides in this video…
To me, it’s a no brainer from where deGrom sits, as well as from where a fan of the game sits. And if the Mets are going to do the “right thing” with the face of their franchise, they are the ones who need to step up, throwing two shifts to the wind with the hope deGrom stays healthy – to pay this guy – now!