Dillon Gee is not the most exciting name on the Mets. Gee is known as the reliable pitcher who can produce some quality innings. Gee is not an innings eater, and he’s surely not a dominant player. When healthy, he can be counted on to keep the team in the ball game. He’s also the Mets’ opening day starter,not that that title means anything. Gee is the opening day starter by default and not necessarily by merit. However, he has some qualities that are reasonably good enough for the Mets to take a risk and extend him.
Last Year, Gee pitched to an ERA/FIP/xFIP line of 3.62/4.00/4.07, which is about league average. While his overall year was average, Gee was hampered by a bad March/April in which he posted a FIP of 5.46. However, after that month, his FIP didn’t hover much higher, just 4.24. Everyone has bad months, and it sometimes takes time for players to settle in the season. Other than April, Gee was a very solid pitcher last season. Solid pitchers aren’t cheap anymore, considering all the inflation that has come into baseball because of TV deals.
Phillip Hughes, who was average or at times below average for most of his career, got a three-year, $24 million deal from the Twins. Ricky Nolasco, who has never been anything exciting, got a four-year, $49 million deal also from the Twins. These are both pitchers who commanded a lot of money from the market, yet were never really anything special. The price to have a solid pitcher in your rotation has become really high. That’s why the Mets should give Gee an extension.
Gee is two years away from free agency, and since he hasn’t been anything spectacular, he would probably be willing to sign a team-friendly extension in exchange for a raise and some security. This does present some risk on the Mets’ side, because his performances might not exceed the value of the extension.
The Blue Jays have followed this model of signing internal options to extensions. We saw them sign both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to lucrative extensions. As risky as they seemed at the time, the value that those players have provided has far exceeded the value of the contracts. However, this model can also work both ways, as the Blue Jays signed Adam Lind to extension, and he hasn’t provided the expected value. In the long run, this strategy has worked pretty well for the Blue Jays because they have commanded such high value from the Bautista and Encarnacion extensions that it outweighs the lost value of the Lind Extension.
Signing Gee to an extension is probably a smart move. Sure it’s risky, but every move is risky. The nice part about risk is that sometimes it pays off, and there’s a good chance that it could pay off for the Mets. Gee has looked really good this spring. His curveball is no longer loopy, and he’s only allowed only two runs over 16 innings. Then again, this is only spring, but it’s better than having a bad spring. Given the rise in the cost of pitching, Gee’s solid campaign last year, and his potential to improve this year, a Jonathon Niese type contract extension might not be a bad idea.