Mets have not yet explored signing their young starting pitchers to long-term deals
With the value of premier starting pitching only continuing to rise in both the trade and free agent market, the Mets are very fortunate to have five premium starting pitching talents already at the big league level in Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom.
In addition, all except Harvey will earn the league minimum in 2016, and even Harvey will come at a relatively good discount with his salary projected to be in the $5 million range in his first season of arbitration eligibility.
Including Jon Niese, the six Mets starting pitchers are projected to earn approximately $16 million, with Harvey (projected at $4-5 million) and Niese ($9 million) earning the bulk of that money.
But as the other young Mets starting pitchers continue to accrue service time and either enter or go through the arbitration process, their salaries will only escalate, and exponentially when all five pitchers are considered.
As such, it would be logical for the Mets to consider exploring multi-year deals with their young pitchers now in an effort to buy out either their arbitration years and/or some of their first few seasons of free agency now.
Doing so would help create cost certainty in both the short and long-term, as well as buy those seasons out at a general discount relative to their value on the open market in those years.
But assistant GM John Ricco said on Friday at Citi Field the Mets have yet to engage the agents for their young pitchers on the possibility of a long-term contract extension.
All things being equal, it would seem Matz and Syndergaard would be logical candidates for a long-term extension. They’re younger than the other pitchers and are further away from both arbitration and free agency, and while the Mets would be buying out their pre-arbitration years at a potentially higher price than the league minimum, they may be able to buy their arbitration years at a big discount. From the perspective of the pitchers, they would get guaranteed monies now even if its for a below market value deal.
As for deGrom and Harvey, it would be difficult to see either entertaining long-term contracts now, especially Harvey who is represented by Scott Boras, and almost always takes his clients – especially the premier ones – to free agency. But they’re a little older than the other pitchers, and after seeing what guys like David Price and Max Scherzer got in free agency at a similar age to what both deGrom and Harvey will be at when they hit the market, they could conceivably sell themselves short by taking a deal from the Mets now which would likely go through those first few years of free agency, assuming they stay healthy.
Yes, they would be getting guaranteed money now, but they might be trading that for a more lucrative offer on the open market later.
But that shouldn’t stop the Mets from at least trying to secure Harvey and deGrom. The worst their agents could say is, “no.”
But in the meantime, the Mets are still unwilling to trade any of their starting pitchers ahead of the 2016 season.