Jeff McNeil accepts extension with Mets

NEW YORK — The most prolific hitter in the majors last season, a local talent noted for his defensive versatility and uncanny hitting skills, will remain in Flushing for the foreseeable future.

The Mets and jeff mcneil have agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract extension that will keep the 2022 National League batting champion at home until at least 2026, multiple sources with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The deal, which the Mets have not yet confirmed because it is pending a physical, includes a club option for 2027 that could increase the total value to $63.75 million.

It’s a financial windfall for McNeil after one of the best seasons of his career, in which he hit .326 to win the franchise’s first batting title in 11 years. The new contract buys out McNeil’s final two seasons of arbitration while guaranteeing the Mets certainty in the cost of one of their most prominent offensive pieces.

McNeil, who turns 31 in April, is a career .307 hitter over five seasons with the club. He is slated to be the starting second baseman for the Mets this season and has announced his intention to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Embarking on one of the most lavish spending sprees in major league history in December, the Mets were left with few items left on the agenda outside of potential contract extensions for two of their leading hitters, McNeil and Peter Alonso. (Multiple sources declined to comment when asked if McNeil’s deal could precede a similar one for Alonso.) To complete a contract with McNeil, the team guaranteed him more money than he would have received over the next two seasons through the arbitration process, while removing the potential stress McNeil might have faced entering free agency for the first time in the 32 years.

In that sense, the deal makes sense for both parties. McNeil sacrificed some potential future earnings for a significant raise now, while the Mets locked up the reigning MLB batting champion for an average of $12.5 million per season, a relative pittance considering how well established McNeil is as an elite hitter. .

A 12th-round draft pick and competing in high school golf before switching his focus to baseball in college, McNeil never ranked among the Mets’ top prospects, battling injuries throughout his career. minor league career. He didn’t break into the majors until he was 26, but he quickly established himself as a top-tier hitter, hitting .329 as a rookie, the first of three consecutive seasons above .300. He endured a down year in 2021 but rebounded to clinch the batting title on the penultimate day of the 2022 season, in large part by rediscovering the mechanics that have always held him back.

Best known for a left-handed swing that allows him to spray all corners of the field with ground balls and line drives, McNeil has also provided the Mets significant value as a strong defender who can play second base, third base and both positions. of the corner gardens. . Mainly occupying the second and left spot last season, McNeil produced positive results Departures above average totals in both positions.

The Mets now have two of their homegrown center position players locked up on long-term contracts; the team signed brandon nimmo to one eight-year free agent contract earlier this offseason. Two other contemporaries, Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith, have departed, leaving Alonso as the only Mets home hitter left unsigned beyond 2024.

That could still change, though Alonso’s age (28) and the span of his career (40 home runs last season) suggest he’ll require a much larger contract than McNeil’s to forego free agency. Unlike his friend and teammate, who was scheduled to go to an arbitration hearing with the Mets before agreeing to a new deal, Alonso has already agreed to a $14.5 million contract for 2023. The Mets could still break that contract to complete an extension, or they could wait to see what unfolds over the next two years.

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