Jeff McNeil’s disjointed route to the Majors is, by this point, well documented. He did not play high school baseball until his senior year, preferring to focus on golf. He earned a scholarship to Cal State Long Beach anyway, became a 12th-round pick of the Mets and, after an injury-riddled Minor League career in which he essentially needed to force his way into every promotion, debuted amid as much skepticism as fanfare in 2018.
“I always thought he would be a good baseball player, but I’d be lying if I said he’d be an All-Star or a batting champion,” said Drew Toussaint, the scout who signed McNeil back in 2013. “That would be crazy.”
Now, McNeil is not only both of those crazy things, but also the poster child for how the Mets wish to treat their homegrown stars. Upon signing a four-year, $50 million contract extension, which the team made official at a Citi Field press conference on Tuesday, McNeil became the first Met to waive multiple arbitration years in favor of an extension since Juan Lagares in 2015. It’s just not the sort of thing that used to be done around Flushing, where fiscal austerity often drove players to free agency whether they wanted to go there or not. Outside of the David Wrights and Jacob deGroms of the world, extension conversations tended never to happen at all.