While the New York Mets pretend to suggest that they can actually contend for the playoffs despite getting stingy with their spendings yet again, the future of pitching ace Jacob deGrom remains unsettled.
The 2018 National League Cy Young Award winner is still under team control through the 2020 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent, but extending deGrom's contract now secures him in blue and orange for the rest of his career.
It's apparently been a priority for deGrom's former agent, now general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, who once brashly gave the Mets the ultimatum of either paying him or trading him back in July before he took the front-office role in Queens.
However, the Mets and deGrom haven't made much progress on an extension this offseason, which is now in its fourth month as spring training inches ever closer.
Instead, it seems as though Van Wagenen and the Mets are content with avoiding arbitration for a third-straight year, which is basically giving the 30-year-old another one-year contract. On Friday, the two parties agreed to a $17 million deal.
It could be a dangerous game to play with deGrom, who spun together a historic 2018 season by posting a league-best 1.70 ERA while striking out 269 batters compared to just 46 walks. If he was given more support from an anemic offense, he could have easily won 20 games. Instead, he went just 10-9, the lowest amount of wins accrued by a Cy Young Winner in MLB history.
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The lack of support clearly frustrated deGrom throughout the season as he single-handedly carried the starting rotation for large stretches of another disappointing year.
Van Wagenen has done plenty of work so far in order to overhaul the roster, upgrading the bullpen and the catcher's spot this offseason while also acquiring veteran second baseman Robinson Cano. However, the Mets don't seem keen on making that last, big-money move that could put them over the top in the division. Much of that is thanks to the Wilpon Family, the franchise's owners.
If the Mets fail to contend in 2019 and can't ink deGrom to an extension, it's one year closer to unrestricted free agency and another argument as to why the righty should not commit his future to a team that isn't fully committed to winning. After all, how many dominant years does a 30-year-old arm normally have?
Should deGrom want to win as soon as possible and the Mets can't fulfill that need, there could come a day when he warns the franchise that he won't re-sign with them, which would lead to Van Wagenen looking to trade one of the faces of the franchise.
DeGrom's name already popped up in trade talks during the 2018 season when he and Noah Syndergaard were rumored to be on the move.
It would be a shocking move that would be met with derision by everyone around baseball, but anything goes when the Wilpons are asked to open their wallets for the good of the team.