Students from Pace University Law School annually compete in a baseball arbitration competition at Tulane University in New Orleans. Their projections for the salaries of arbitration-eligible Mets players annually prove remarkably close to the actual salaries those players ultimately receive. The current Pace team provides their analyses this week for Metsblog. The squad includes Earl Menard, James Di Maggio, and Scott Koren, all from the Class of 2018. They are coached by Dan Masi, a 2014 Pace graduate and former winner of the Tulane competition. The projections are based on salaries received by other MLB players at the points in their careers when they had comparable service time to the current Mets.
Jacob deGrom emerged as the only starting pitcher in the Mets rotation who did not miss a substantial amount of time due to injury in 2017. In fact, it proved another strong season for him. DeGrom appeared in 31 games and accumulated a career-high 201 1/3 innings. He finished with a 15-10 record, 3.53 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.
As a second-time arbitration-eligible pitcher coming off a salary of $4.05 million, deGrom most likely will be compared with Doug Fister (2013), Garrett Richards (2015), and Stephen Strasburg (2014).
Fister had a similar year in 2013 when he had equivalent MLB service time. He started 32 games and logged 208 2/3 innings. Although Fister has a slight advantage in innings pitched, he had a 3.67 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, which are both inferior to deGrom's 2017 season. Neither pitcher suffered major injuries during that year, although deGrom has had a Tommy John surgery in the past, unlike Fister. Fister's salary increased by $3.125 million, which is the lower end of the kind of raise deGrom should expect to see.
Richards had more innings pitched (207 1/3) in his equivalent year than deGrom, but sported a higher ERA (3.65) and WHIP (1.24). Richards saw a $3.225 million raise. DeGrom should get more of a raise than Richards due to his better season and career numbers at the corresponding points in their careers.
The most ideal comparison is Strasburg's 2014 season. Strasburg had an overall better year across the board. He had more innings pitched (215). And Strasburg sported a lower ERA (3.14) and WHIP (1.12) than deGrom. However, deGrom's career numbers are very comparable to Strasburg's numbers through their second-time arbitration-eligible years.
DeGrom has 30 more innings, and his career 2.98 ERA is slightly lower than Strasburg's 3.02 ERA at that point. Strasburg does sport a slightly better career WHIP (1.09 WHIP vs. 1.12 WHIP). DeGrom also has been more durable than Strasburg when it comes to injuries, but both have undergone Tommy John surgeries. Strasburg earned $3.975 in the season after his first year of arbitration eligibility ($4.1M with incentives). He saw his salary rise to $7.4 million the following year.
DeGrom has been a dominant pitcher during his MLB career. However, this season was markedly worse than Strasburg's equivalent year, so deGrom ought to expect a lower raise.
DeGrom should receive a raise of $3.35 million, which increases his yearly salary to $7.4 million. That places deGrom on par with Strasburg on total salary due to their similarities, but his inferior equivalent season will limit the raise deGrom receives.
Adam Rubin (Facebook | Twitter | Contact) has covered the Mets since 2002. He previously worked for the Daily News and ESPN. He also serves as assistant athletic director for strategic communications at NYIT. He is a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the University of Pennsylvania.