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Jacob deGrom reportedly sets Opening Day deadline for contract talks

Jacob deGrom has informed New York Mets officials that there will be no contract negotiations during the season, meaning the team has been put on notice that any deliberations concerning a new deal must come before Opening Day, sources tell the New York Post.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is slated to earn $17 million in 2019 after he and the Mets avoided arbitration in January by agreeing to a record raise from $7.4 million in 2018. deGrom will reach free agency after the 2020 season but would prefer to sign a long-term deal with the Mets that would buy out his final season of arbitration eligibility.

Interestingly, deGrom’s representation is playing an active role in examining what has been a perplexing lack of action in free agency over the past two offseasons, and it appears deGrom could play hardball with the Mets in that regard.

DeGrom’s CAA agent, Jeff Berry, recently released a memo that outlined recourse for players who seek reform in free agency, following two historically slow markets. Among the ideas suggested by Berry was that pitchers could look to cap their workloads in a season to ensure their value remains at a higher level heading to free agency. And a source indicated deGrom could put such restrictions on himself if a new deal isn’t reached with the Mets.

Another wrinkle in the deGrom situation is how new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen previously served as the pitcher’s agent at CAA before taking the job with the organization.

Berry, deGrom’s new agent, met with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon during the Winter Meetings, but those discussions reportedly failed to include any substantive contract negotiations, per the Post’s sources.

It remains to be seen whether or not deGrom’s deadline and veiled threat to cap his workload will inspire the Mets to initiate contract discussions. That said, with Opening Day on March 28, the parties will have to get to work sooner rather than later in the hopes of hammering anything out.