Jacob deGrom, Mets Set Contract Extension Deadline for Opening Day

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2019

New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers the ball to the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

The New York Mets are working on a strict timeline if they want to reach a new deal with starting pitcher Jacob deGrom.

According to ESPN.com, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said there is a "mutual understanding" between the team and deGrom's representatives that he will not negotiate a deal during the season. That gives the two sides until Opening Day on March 28 to come to a potential agreement.

"There's no reason for a distraction to carry into the regular season, and we'll continue to have dialogue over the course of this spring and see where those discussions lead," Van Wagenen said. "But the last thing either side wants to do is have this be a distraction once the season starts."

The ESPN report noted deGrom avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $17 million for the 2018 campaign and has one year of arbitration remaining on his contract.

Van Wagenen was deGrom's agent prior to becoming the general manager of the Mets, so there is already a relationship in place. He said it is a priority to ensure "there is no strained relationship" between the team and pitcher as negotiations continue.

While New York could wait until next year to negotiate a new contract with the right-hander since he is not scheduled to hit free agency until 2020, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported deGrom's agent, Jeff Berry, sent a memo to players suggesting they should use analytics to create guidelines for their usage.

Since some teams point to increased usage as injury risk while negotiating, the logic is deGrom could put in guidelines limiting his usage until he receives a new contract.

New York would surely benefit from having him in the rotation for years to come after his brilliant 2018 season. He won the National League Cy Young with a 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 269 strikeouts, though he pitched a career-high 217 innings in a career-high 32 starts.

Berry's suggestion adds a new wrinkle to the negotiations given deGrom's recent usage, but both sides are working under the timeline of Opening Day if a new deal is going to happen prior to next offseason.