The deadline for teams to reach one year deals prior to salary arbitration was at 1:00 pm, and the New York Mets took care of their business efficiently. The Mets began the day with five remaining players eligible for arbitration, including 4/5 of the starting rotation and outfielder Michael Conforto. All five players reached deals with the Mets, marking the first time since 2012 the team avoided going to an arbitration hearing. The headline deal belonged to Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who received a record raise in the process.
deGrom will earn $17 million in 2019, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports, an increase of $9.6 million over his 2018 salary. That is now the record for the biggest raise in salary arbitration history, and definitely sets a positive tone for extension talks. The Mets and deGrom are both open to a long term deal, but this deal avoids the ugliness of an arbitration hearing and demonstrates a desire to pay deGrom what he is worth. This raise, which beat deGrom’s projected salary by about $4 million, should also put deGrom in a favorable mindset to begin a long term negotiation. The Mets could easily tack another four or five years onto this contract and secure deGrom’s long term future in Queens, and those talks should now continue over the next few months.
Other Mets to avoid arbitration included Noah Syndergaard ($6 million), Steven Matz ($2.625 million), Zack Wheeler ($5.975 million), and Conforto ($4.025 million). The team had previously agreed to a one year deal with catcher Travis d’Arnaud to avoid arbitration, paying him just over $3 million to be their backup catcher. With these salaries factored in, the Mets’ current payroll sits at about $155 million, although that figure depends on the structure of Jed Lowrie’s contract. This puts the team’s payroll on par with their Opening Day figure for 2018, but it is fair to question if they still have money to play with to improve their pitching depth. The Mets could definitely use another arm in the bullpen and may want to look into depth arms for their starting rotation.