Mets lock up batting champion McNeil on $50M, 4-year deal
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By MIKE FITZPATRICK
NEW YORK (AP) - Batting champion Jeff McNeil and the New York Mets finalized a $50 million, four-year contract Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.
The move was the latest by the high-spending Mets. who added pitcher Justin Verlander and David Robertson, catcher Omar Narváez and outfielder Tommy Pham, and also reached a $162 million, eight-year deal to keep outfielder Brandon Nimmo.
"It starts with ownership," McNeil said at a news conference. "They want to put a winner on the field. It's been pretty amazing to see what that's looked like the last few years."
He gets $6.25 million this year, $10.25 million in 2024 and $15.75 million in each of the following two years. The Mets have a $15.75 million option for 2027 with a $2 million buyout, a season that if exercised would make the agreement worth $63.75 million over five years.
He would get $100,000 for winning the World Series MVP, $50,000 for League Championship Series MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger or making the All-Star team. McNeil would receive a one-time $500,000 assignment bonus if traded, payable by the receiving team. He also gets a hotel suite on road trips.
A two-time All-Star, McNeil led the majors with a .326 average last season. The second baseman asked for a raise from $3 million to $7.75 million this year, while New York offered $6.25 million.
He was the only one of seven Mets eligible for arbitration who did not agree to terms on a deal and formally exchanged salary proposals with the team at the Jan. 13 deadline.
But the sides settled on a multiyear agreement weeks later, avoiding arguments before a three-person panel in St. Petersburg, Florida.
McNeil, who turns 31 in April, could have become a free agent following the 2024 season but agreed to push that back at least two years, possibly three.
An excellent contact hitter and a versatile defender, McNeil also made 44 starts in the outfield last season: 33 in left field and 11 in right. He had an .836 OPS at the plate with nine home runs, 39 doubles and 62 RBIs in 148 games for a Mets team that made its first playoff appearance in six years.
He won a Silver Slugger Award and finished 15th in NL MVP voting.
McNeil is a .307 career hitter in 4 1/2 big league seasons with 46 homers and an .827 OPS. He has struck out only 242 times in 2,039 plate appearances.
McNeil was drafted by the Mets in the 12th round out of Long Beach State in 2013.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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Updated January 31, 2023