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Mets’ Steve Cohen explains how he’s ‘all in’ with Lindor deal; club talking extensions with deGrom, Conforto

The New York Mets will finally open the 2021 regular season Monday night. The club’s season-opening weekend series with the Nationals was postponed because of Washington’s COVID-19 concerns. The Mets are now in Philadelphia will begin their season with their regularly scheduled series against the Phillies. Here’s how you can watch Monday’s game.

Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will make his Mets debut Monday, and a few hours prior to first pitch, the club officially announced his 10-year contract extension. The $341 million deal is the third-richest contract in baseball history and will keep Lindor in Flushing through at least 2031

“I look at Francisco as a cornerstone of our present and future. I think he’s going to lead us to division titles, pennants and championships,” new owner Steven Cohen told reporters, including The Athletic’s Tim Britton and Newsday‘s Tim Healey, on Monday. “… I told you I’m all in, and this should leave no doubt.”

Cohen added the Mets are “going to be significant players for free agents down the road and we’re going to act like a major market club,” according to Britton. The Mets pursued several big-name free agents this past offseason, including George Springer and Trevor Bauer, but struck out each time. Lindor was their top offseason addition and hey, there’s no shame in that.

Lindor was going to be part of next offseason’s monster free agent shortstop class alongside Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story. Now the Mets don’t have to worry about locking him up. They do, however, need to retain outfielder Michael Conforto. Conforto is scheduled to become a free agent this coming offseason.

“We’ve had conversations with everybody,” Cohen told reporters, including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, when asked about ongoing extension conversations. Team president Sandy Alderson described past extension talks with Conforto as “brief but cordial,” says DiComo. “I do believe there’s room to continue those conversations,” Alderson added.

Conforto, 28, has been one of the best hitters in baseball the last four years, hitting .265/.369/.495 while averaging 34 home runs per 162 games since 2017. Springer signed a six-year, $150 million contract over the winter and Conforto will be two years younger than Springer is now when he becomes a free agent. He wouldn’t be wrong to seek a similar (or larger) contract.

Last week SNY’s Andy Martino reported the Mets have also had preliminary contract extension talks with two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. DeGrom is in the third year of the five-year, $137.5 million contract he signed March 2019. Here are the remaining contact terms:

  • 2021: $33.5 million ($13.5 million deferred)
  • 2022: $33.5 million ($15 million deferred) (can opt out after season)
  • 2023: $30.5 million ($12 million deferred)
  • 2024: $32.5 million club option ($15 million deferred if exercised)

The deferrals will be paid out from 2035-39, though that opt out after next season is why the Mets have already engaged in contract talks. They want to avoid that headache next year. The Mets were reportedly willing to pay Bauer roughly $40 million per year, and if you’re willing to pay Bauer that much, how much are you willing to pay deGrom? That’s what deGrom is thinking, I’m sure.

The Mets could offer to guarantee the 2024 club option and tack on, say, two years and $80 million. That would effectively give deGrom a six-year contract worth $210 million covering 2021-26, his age 33-38 seasons. For reference, Justin Verlander earned $178 million during the same six-year chunk of his career, though part of that was covered by a contract he signed back in 2013.

For now, Cohen and the Mets have handled their most pressing piece of business, and that was locking up Lindor. Conforto is presumably next on the agenda, and deGrom isn’t too far behind him given the opt out.




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