As previously rumoured, the New York Mets and starting pitcher Jon Niese have agreed on a five year contract worth $25.5 million in guaranteed money. The deal covers Niese’s final renewal year, his three arbitration seasons and at least one season of free agency, with club options for two seasons afterwards that could push the deal to being worth $46 million over seven years.
Compared to the signings that occurred earlier this week , the deal may seem minuscule, but it is of some interest nonetheless. It’s not often that you see a team lock up a third or fourth ranked starter in a rotation for this length of time, and on the surface, this appears to be what the Mets have done in ensuring Niese remains in New York for the foreseeable future.
On this level, the deal works, but it could mean even more. As Drew Fairservice discovered this off season, Niese is one of only 16 pitchers with 300 innings pitched over the past two years who was better than average in strikeouts, walks and groundball rate. The other left-handed names on that list include CC Sabathia, David Price, Cole Hamels, Madison Bumgarner, Wandy Rodriquez and Jaime Garcia. Not too shabby.
The deal’s structure is incredibly similar to the one that the Oakland A’s gave to Trevor Cahill almost a year ago, before shipping him to Arizona in a trade this off season. Interestingly enough, several pundits speculated as to Niese’s availability to the failed Cahill suitors. It’s likely a good thing that the Mets hung on to him, because it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Niese offered more value than Cahill over the next five years, even if his deal wasn’t already $5 million cheaper than Cahill’s.
Overall, the contract extension is a smart first expenditure from Sandy Alderson as the general manager of the New York Mets.