Mets’ Jeff McNeil nudging teammate to make due on expensive promise after winning batting title
It was a good Tuesday for New York Mets utility player Jeff McNeil.
McNeil's four-year extension from the team worth $50 million was made official, and it includes an option for a fifth year that could bring the grand total to $63.75 million.
But, during his press conference Tuesday to announce the extension, McNeil is waiting on one more thing – but now from the front office.
Francisco Lindor, the Mets' All-Star shortstop, promised McNeil that he would buy him a car if he won the National League batting title. He did just that, averaging .326 over the 2022 season, but he still hasn't received his reward.
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McNeil said that he recently sent Lindor some cars that caught his eye.
“He said they were nice cars,” McNeil said, via The Post. “They were one brand of a very nice [car].”
McNeil and Lindor do have other things on their mind at the moment, with Mets spring training opening in two weeks. As always, it will be pitchers first, then position players before the first team practice.
The 30-year-old McNeil figures to be a prominent piece of a Mets lineup that won 101 games last season, though they fell to the San Diego Padres in the NL wild-card round.
This extension, however, makes McNeil a key piece for the future as well.
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“Taking care of my family was huge,” McNeil said, as he forgoes his final two years of arbitration with this extension. “Coming up at 26 and being a free agent at 33, you never know what is going to happen. I am an uptight person as well so I think this kind of allows me to go out there and play baseball every day. I don't have to worry.”
Guaranteed money has always been enticing for players, especially in MLB when becoming a free agent initially requires years of arbitration. Players like the Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies, New York Yankees' Luis Severino, and most recently, Tampa Bay Rays' Yandy Diaz take early extensions before hitting the market to guarantee their millions.
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McNeil noted that those discussions with Mets brass became serious in January following the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to reach an agreement with their teams. McNeil was hoping to get a raise from $3 million to $7.75 million for the upcoming season. The Mets countered with $6.25 million at the time, forcing arbitration.
They avoid that now with the new extension.
With McNeil locked in for at least the next four years, the Mets have a solid core that includes Brandon Nimmo, who re-signed this offseason after becoming a free agent, and Lindor. Pete Alonso, who has one more year of arbitration after this season, is likely the next player on the Mets' list of extension talks.
As McNeil stated, he made his big-league debut when he was 26 years old in 2018, and it was a great showing with a .329/.381/.471 slash line in 63 games. Those efforts landed him with the Mets for the entire 2019 season, which became his first All-Star year with a .318/.384/.531 slash with 23 homers, 38 doubles and 75 RBI in 133 games.
In five seasons, McNeil has hit under .311 just once, making him one of the best contact hitters in the game.
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Despite being “over the hump” at 30 years old, the Mets see no reason why McNeil's bat can't continue to pump out hits each season, which led to locking in his talents for the short- and long-term future.