Coppola: Jacob deGrom and the Lost Year

By William Coppola

Another agonizing waisted performance by the Mets’ Jacob deGrom last night. He pitched brilliantly against a very good hitting Cubs team and was not involved in the decision. The game was suspended after nine innings and completed the next day where the Cubs walked off with a 2-1 win in the 11th. deGrom went 8 innings, 1 walk, 10 Ks and 1 run to go along with a 1.68 ERA. What a year he’s having!

Today a thought came to me, what if not offering deGrom a contract that would have locked him in for another four or five years was a master plan by the Mets. A plan that would reap the Mets more in the near future? What if all the talk about a deGrom trade this summer, was nothing more than feelers, with the Mets hierarchy listening to see just what their CY Young caliber starter could be worth next year? Not locking him down to a long term, club friendly contract this year, will now cost the Mets a King’s ransom. Or will it?

Could the master wizard behind the blue curtain in Queens be smarter than we think? By the way, just who is making the decisions today at Citi Field? All of that aside, If deGrom continues to dominate hitters for the remainder of the season, he will definitely command more at the bargaining table. Right now it looks like he will finish the season so strong that a CY Young award is a good possibility despite his win-loss record with this loser team. What if the Mets hold on to all that money and gamble that he will get off to a good start next year and when they are 27.5 games behind the Braves in July THEY demand a King’s ransom for their prized pitcher.
This could be the one time that the ever so tightfisted, miserly, stingy ownership could come out of all of this better than they could have ever imagined. There will always be good organizations in baseball, who unlike the Mets, are always looking to win. They will make the trade. Oh you say the Mets also want to win? Yea and all the highway construction in the 5 boroughs will be done before Christmas. Well, maybe they do want to win but not as much as making money and this is all about the money.
Trading deGrom next year for a boatload of prospects would be a good step in building from within. Again the money part plays into this as they would be using the player development system of another organization to stock their minor leagues. Other teams spend a ton of money not just paying good prospects but paying a good GM plus good scouts and coaches throughout their system. Also paying out what ever it takes to first find, sign and developed a top prospect. When was the last time you read about the Mets being active in Latin America? International pool money? The Mets rank #24 out of 30 teams. So they need someone else’s spending to come their way.
So what will happen? If the Mets trade deGrome for a bunch of prospects, they are just that, prospects. A few of them will become good big league players. Maybe even a star.  It will take the signing of 20 prospects over possibly ten years to find another Jacob deGrom. If they keep him, they will have to spend a lot of money. A new GM will have to convince the owners that his plan, what ever it will be, will work. The amount of money that either goes into the owners pocket or is spent will be the number one reason for what ever they do.  But not having to shell out millions for deGrome could be the overwhelming decision maker for them.
Are the owners still stinging from that $110 million they shelled out for Yoenis Cespedes? This will be a very interesting winter for the Mets. Too bad there isn’t an analytical saber metric formula for building a winning team because then everything would be perfect. The Mets are at a fork in the road now with their prized pitcher and knowing the Mets they will probably do what Yogi once said: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
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