Matt Harvey has been the toast of town. And rightfully so. The 24-year-old has hurled a 1.54 ERA, 2.39 FIP, and 3.9 K/BB through 35 innings, and has also been victorious in all four of his decisions. Harvey's dominant performance to date has prompted just about every Mets fan to wonder when the organization will extend the budding ace.
However, according to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal — and much to the chagrin of Mets fans — the Mets haven't broached the subject yet.
While there is no doubt the Mets should quickly extend Harvey before he starts booking Light 'N Lively Yogurt ads, the team should also consider locking up his more modestly performing rotation-mate, Dillon Gee.
Gee has endured an unspectacular start to the 2013 season, posting a 63 ERA+ and 1.75 K/BB over his first 19 innings. Even though the right-hander isn't a power pitcher, his fastball has been noticeably slower in 2013 (88.4 MPH) than it was last season (90.9 MPH). As a result, Gee has become much more susceptible to hits (from 8.9 H/9 in 2012 to 10.5 H/9), while also experiencing a handsome spike in home runs allowed (from 0.98 HR/9 in 2012 to 1.83 HR/9).
Opposing hitters have not been fooled by Gee, either. The Texas native's whiff rate has dropped from a 10.6% SwStr% in 2012 to a 7.5% this season. By comparison, Jamie Moyer, a notorious soft-tosser, owned a career 7.6% SwStr%. In addition, hitters aren't chasing nearly as many of Gee's pitches outside the zone, only collectively fishin' at a 27.9% rate (from 36.0% O-Swing% in 2012).
Yet, if the Mets have even the slightest faith in Gee's future success, there might not be a better opportunity to extend him than now.
The 27-year-old, who will be arbitration eligible for the first time in 2014, has owned a solid 92 ERA+, 1.98 K/BB, and 2.5 WAR over 303.3 IP from 2010 to 2012. During 2012, Gee was particularly effective, besting his 2011 season in myriad statistical categories:
He even averaged 6.45 innings per start, which limited the usage of Manny Acosta, Miguel Batista, and other members of the Mets' abhorrent bullpen.
Even though Gee's career statistics don't suggest he'll ever develop into a top-tier pitcher, the Mets' front office must still recognize the value in signing a number-four or -five starter to a team-friendly deal.
Jason Vargas is proof of this.
Despite owning a slightly inferior 87 ERA+ and 1.83 K/BB in his pre-arbitration years, Vargas was able to turn a career-best 104 ERA+ in 2010 into a respectable $2.45 million first-year arbitration salary. While Vargas has only averaged a 93 ERA+ from 2011 to 2012, the southpaw still commanded $4.85 million and $8.5 million in his second and final arbitration seasons, respectively.
Given Gee's labrum injury in 2009 (in the minor leagues) and unfortunate blood clot that cut his 2012 campaign short, the right-hander would likely accept a team-friendly extension if offered. Considering Vargas, who appears to be a reasonable pre-arbitration comparison, was able to garner $15.8 million through arbitration, it might behoove the Mets to offer Gee an extension in the ballpark of four years, $8 million.
Such a contract would appeal to both parties. For the Mets, they'd hope to be securing a productive pitcher through his three arbitration and first free agent years. And for Gee, he'd gain the type of financial security he might not have thought was possible as an unranked minor leaguer four years ago.