- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Mets Ace This Test

If you can’t commit to Jacob deGrom for the next five years of your baseball life, you might as well find something else to do. There’s no point owning the Mets, running the Mets or rooting for the Mets if you foresee a mid-term commitment to the most effective pitcher you’ve cultivated in ages presenting an obstacle to your well-being.

Hence, hurrah for the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen and us. Hurrah most of all for Jake, who’s earned his bountiful contract extension [1] from drawing so many hurrahs out of us for the past half-decade. We’ve reveled in cheering him on since 2014 and we project continuing to do so through 2023 if not longer.

To borrow a phrase from Noah Syndergaard, this is what championship teams do.

Five years? A ton can go awry in five weeks with this team. But five years for a) one of the best starting pitchers the franchise has ever produced; and b) one of the best starting pitchers the sport currently features lands squarely inside the contemporary circle of sanity. The money the Mets will pay deGrom — $137.5 million — is insane for regular people, perfectly rational in the context of the here, now and a little later of the particular business at hand.

A little while ago, like maybe before Spring Training, securing your elite ace’s high-end services before a parting of the ways lurked at the door might have seemed too off the wall to consider the Mets seriously pursuing. The Mets might have thought a commitment an extravagance. Jake was receiving his arbitration-avoiding 2019 salary of $17 million. Another year of “team control” (what a creepy phrase) loomed. The owners, the GM, the guy who paws through my bag in front of the Rotunda could have all concurred to kick deCan down deRoad. Why decide to pay a player, even your premier player, when you don’t absolutely have to make that decision? DeGrom could set his deadlines all he wanted. The Mets could calmly cop to mulling their options regardless and the season would come along, deal or no deal, gripes from the likes of us notwithstanding. Team Control would still be a year ahead in the no-loss column.

The better question, however, became “why not?” especially after highly valued megastars on other teams were shown how highly they were valued. Perhaps it’s a sign of free agency being depleted of its cachet by some amazing collusive coincidence, but suddenly the extension dominoes began to tumble. Arenado. Trout. Goldschmidt. Bregman. Oh, and pitchers — Nola, Snell, Sale, Verlander. DeGrom’s surely in their league. Or they’re in deGrom’s league. However you align them, important players were being handsomely compensated for consenting to stick around familiar environs where fans already know them, love them and wear them.

Add deGrom to those ranks and keep 48 pressed against your back. Yes, the Mets got this done. This wouldn’t be a surprising conclusion to negotiations if they’d involved some team that hadn’t reflexively raised our skepticism in inverse proportion to the depths of Jake’s ERA, but it was, you know… the Mets. Thus it was rather shocking to learn Tuesday morning the talk that these Mets and their main man were talking wasn’t just talk. They indeed had a deal. And we indeed have our ace at the peak of his powers. Jacob deGrom probably can’t pitch any better on a regular basis than he did in 2018. He doesn’t have to. Standard-issue deGrominance, wherein once in a while he delivers us the sun, the moon and only a few of the stars instead of the entire galaxy, is a fine baseline and a reasonable expectation for us to maintain. After watching Jacob deGrom these past five years, you don’t feel unreasonable expecting the next five will feel like the bargain of the century.