Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
You might recall that R.A. Dickey's Cy Young Award in 2012 resulted not in a celebration but a quarrel between player and team that ended in the Mets trading Dickey to the Blue Jays before the end of the year.
You might also recall that, last July, when Jacob deGrom's then-agent Brodie Van Wagenen called on the Mets to either extend or consider trading the ace, a well-placed source predicted to us that it would end in a "trade in the offseason."
DeGrom, it seemed at the time, was going the way of Dickey -- a top pitcher at first willing to stay in New York long-term, but ultimately used as a rebuilding chip.
Much has changed since. DeGrom is widely expected to collect his own Cy Young Award on Wednesday, Van Wagenen is the Mets' GM, and we have a new prediction: The team will not shop deGrom this winter, and will in fact be discussing a contract extension by the end of the calendar year. The Mets need to work through other free agent and trade scenarios to determine how to structure a deGrom deal, but could answer many of those other roster questions by the winter meetings.
Our current read on this ever-evolving, always intriguing situation is that all momentum centers around finding ways to keep deGrom.
To find out why the situation has become more hopeful for the team and its fans, we simply need to trace the evolution of this issue. All of this comes from reporting done at the time, in addition to fresh inquiries for this column:
- In mid-June of this year, the Mets were strongly considering shopping deGrom before the trade deadline as a way to facilitate a fast rebuild. In internal conversations, some club officials pointed to the haul that the Chicago White Sox obtained for ace Chris Sale as a roadmap to contending again within a few years.
- On June 26, GM Sandy Alderson stepped aside, scrambling the team's short-term leadership dynamic. In the reporting we did following that franchise-altering event, it was clear that the Mets would listen on Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, but not deGrom. Something had already begun to shift, and it was clear that Mets brass could not stomach trading as singular a talent as deGrom, at least not immediately.
- At the All-Star Game in July, Van Wagenen and deGrom tried to nudge the Mets toward a decision. Privately, deGrom told friends that he would love to stay with the Mets, but needed to see that the team was committed to winning, rather than rebuilding. At 30 years old and in the prime of his career, he needed to be part of a winner immediately. Would the Mets provide that chance? He didn't know.
- The Mets held onto Syndergaard and Wheeler at the July 31 trade deadline, resisting the temptation to rebuild, and saving that decision for the next head of baseball operations.
- After the season, the Mets hired Van Wagenen, who maintains a strong relationship with deGrom and publicly declared his intention to win now.
Of course, the ultimate decision on whether to sign will be deGrom's. He deserves to be compensated for his excellence, and he deserves to win. He is surely taking a long look at his current situation. "He may not look the part, but deGrom is really smart about the business," says one close friend in the game.
But the Mets are no longer salivating over his trade value. The focus this offseason is clearly to make him a part of their turnaround, both short and long-term. The next question will be if they can agree on a deal.