Jacob deGrom’s representatives conferred with Mets officials at the winter meetings in the second week of December and left believing signing their client long term was a priority for the franchise.
Eight weeks later and without any substantive talks since has left the deGrom camp, at minimum, disappointed, especially because the public comments of Mets executives matched what the agents were told privately — that reaching an agreement to avoid deGrom becoming a free agent after the 2020 season was vital to the organization.
Thus, this becomes the next litmus test in the tenure of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Job 1 was to convince his bosses to be more daring in action and finances to try to contend in 2019. Now — with this year’s opening roster pretty much established — Van Wagenen can pivot to the most important big-picture item on his agenda: Locking up deGrom beyond 2020.
First as deGrom’s agent while working at CAA and now as the Mets’ GM, Van Wagenen has wanted deGrom secured long term. But deGrom will pitch at age 31 this season, already has had Tommy John surgery and the nine-figure contract he’s seeking generally has not worked out well for the Mets, making the ever-hesitant Wilpons even more so. Nevertheless, the Mets plan to sit with deGrom’s representatives during spring training and see if multi-year talks can be accelerated.
“Jacob is an important part of the franchise, one of the best players in baseball and he is a priority of this franchise going forward,” Van Wagenen said by phone. “It is our hope that he is part of the championship efforts in the future. I would hope Jacob deGrom is a lifelong Met.”
Jeff Berry, deGrom’s agent, declined comment.