Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

Mets: Rest Assured, deGrom And Syndergaard Talk Is All About Money

Losers of six games in a row and stumbling along in fourth place in NL East with a 27-32 record, Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, seems prepared to cross a bridge that is destined to split wide open both the team and fans of the team. But as always, it’s about the $$$.

It’s always a special night at Citi Field when either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to pitch for the Mets. The attendance ticks up a bit, and there is a buzz at the ballpark suggesting that something remarkable might happen before the night is over.

By and large, most fans will arrive at work the next day with stories to tell about Syndergaard blowing hitters away with devasting 100 mph fastballs and making hitters look silly while striking out fourteen. That conversation, however, will hit a dead end as soon as someone asks, did the Mets win? No, I’m afraid they lost 4-2 when the bullpen lost the lead in the ninth.

This is where the Mets sit today with both deGrom and Syndergaard. The team is losing with them, so what’s the difference if they lose without them? And what’s the advantage to build around them during the rebuilding process by bringing in young talent that usually takes three to four years to develop before it’s time to reap the rewards?

We have learned over time that money is everything to the New York Mets. And I’ll bet my bottom dollar that is what the trade talk is about now. The dollars for both Syndergaard and deGrom are functional for the Mets. But that changes significantly two, three, and four years down the road.

Here, for example, is what the Mets are facing with Jacob deGrom:

Jacob deGrom's Salary History
Jacob deGrom’s Salary History Source: Baseball Reference

DeGrom, based on the season he is having, will easily double his salary in his first season of arbitration (2019), and from there, the same likelihood exists for his next two arbitration years. Until DeGrom reaches the point three seasons from now (2021) when he becomes a full-fledged free agent.

The Mets don’t pay the kind of money deGrom will command. They’ll dish it out to a broken down left fielder (Yoenis Cespedes) or right fielder (Jay Bruce), but not for a pitcher. Not convinced? Recall, then, the circumstances behind the Mets trade of Tom Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds when he was the darling of Mets fans. Forty years later, Newsday provides the details:

“With the beginning of big free-agent contracts, Seaver, in spring training in 1977, wanted to renegotiate the three-year deal he signed in February 1976 that paid him a base salary of $225,000 a year. Before signing that deal, Seaver had told then-team president Lorinda de Roulet, daughter of founding owner Joan Whitney Payson, that the time had arrived for the $200,000-plus price tag “She said, ‘Over my dead body,’ ’’ Whitney de Roulet Bullock, the owner’s daughter, said from her home in upstate Millbrook.”Steven Marcus, Newsday.com

The Mets briefly touched the third rail with deGrom during the offseason with contract extension discussions that went nowhere, probably for the same reason. The Mets didn’t want to pay the piper for the services of deGrom.

The scenario with Syndergaard is a bit better, but not by much. Essentially, Syndergaard is one year behind deGrom regarding service time. But still, barring a trade, Thor is going to be a thorn in the side of the Mets pocketbook sooner rather than later.

Noah Syndergaard Salary History
Noah Syndergaard Salary History Source: Baseball Reference

Because of injuries, Syndergaard has fallen further behind deGrom and is not likely to command the same money as deGrom, but still, how long can this go on? And what if Syndergaard continues to be plagued with injury, what will that do to his trade value down the road?

Fans may not like it, and it’s unfortunate, but the Mets have hit a wall. Backed into a corner, Alderson has no choice but to conduct a fire sale similar to the one the Chicago White Sox had when they unloaded Chris Sale and nearly all of their star players two seasons ago.

These moves brought the promise of tomorrow to White Sox fans, or at least the ones who know baseball. Today?, not so much, but a check of the MLB Standings show the Mets have only won seven more games than the White Sox this year, so who’s to say?

This is a positive move the Mets are making, even if “listening to offers” for deGrom and Syndergaard is miles away from consummating a deal.

And these trades, if they occur, must be done in sync with unloading the Geriatric Three, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, et.al. Otherwise, it accomplishes nothing. Which in turn, increases the load on the back of Alderson in what expected to be his final hurrah for the Mets as General Manager.

Next up, we take a look at possible suitors (if they exist) and offers the Mets should listen to closely. Or, maybe you want to get a head start on that in the comments section, and I’ll pick it up from there.

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