Sunday, April 1, 2012

Smells Like A Good Deal For Jonathon Niese!

It looks like our fav'rit homegrown lefty starter will be calling New York home for a very long time.  According to Adam Rubin, the Mets and Jonathon Niese will soon be shaking hands on a five-year deal worth approximately $28.5 million.  The deal would also call for two team options in 2017 and 2018, worth $11 million and $11.5 million, respectively.

Once the two sides have crossed their i's and dotted their t's (or is it the other way around), the deal will be made official.  It would be the first contract of more than two years signed by a Met under Sandy Alderson's watch and would also keep Niese in Flushing until he is in his 30s.

Keeping Niese into his 30s would give the Mets stability in the starting rotation.  But it would also give the team a chance to finally keep one of its homegrown players for the majority of his career.  With all the uncertainty surrounding David Wright and the possibility he will not be with the team in 2013, Niese could become the first homegrown player since Vance Wilson in 2003 to remain with the team until after his 30th birthday.

Even if Niese's club options for 2017 and 2018 aren't picked up, Niese has a good chance to establish himself as one of the top pitchers in franchise history.  That might seem like a stretch right now, but consider the following:

Jonathon Niese is currently tied for 43rd place on the Mets' all-time list with 22 victories.  Should he average only nine wins per year over the next five years, he would crack the top ten, surpassing Steve Trachsel, who is currently 10th on the Mets' all-time wins list with 66.  Despite spending time on the disabled list in 2010 and 2011, Niese reached the nine-win mark in both seasons.

With 315 strikeouts as a Met, Jonathon Niese is currently No. 39 on the team's all-time strikeout list.  Niese has averaged 143 strikeouts per season over the last two years, even with the time missed due to injuries.  If Niese were to average that amount over the duration of his contract (not including the option years), he would add 715 strikeouts to his career total, giving him 1,030 lifetime strikeouts.  Only seven pitchers in Mets history have reached that lofty total (Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, Ron Darling, Al Leiter).

The Mets have had their share of excellent right-handed pitchers, such as the aforementioned Seaver, Gooden, Cone and Darling.  However, besides Koosman, Fernandez and Leiter, the only other left-handed pitcher in Mets' history to appear regularly on the club's all-time leaderboards is Jon Matlack.  (Johan Santana hasn't been healthy enough to appear on these lists and we're not discussing Tom Glavine here.)  By the end of his contract, we might be talking about Koosman, Fernandez, Leiter, Matlack and Niese as the top five left-handed starters in club history.  Who'da thunk it?

In giving Jonathon Niese a five-year deal, the Mets assured themselves of stability in their rotation through 2016.  But they may have also assured themselves of keeping a pitcher who could end up being mentioned in the same sentence as the team's all-time greats.

Seaver, Gooden, Koosman, Niese?  It's not as far-fetched as you think.

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