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Jacob deGrom rebuffs 2016 contract figure

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom declined to sign his 2016 contract in a protest over his assigned salary.

DeGrom has no recourse and will earn $607,000 this season. Because deGrom has not achieved enough major league service time to be arbitration-eligible, Mets officials could assign him any salary they chose above the MLB minimum of $507,500.

The 27-year-old DeGrom has amassed significant achievements in his young career. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 2014 and represented the Mets in the All-Star Game last season, when he made $556,875.

"We respect the Mets' right to determine a pre-arbitration player's salary and their effort to be consistent with their players," said agent Brodie Van Wagenen, co-head of CAA Baseball. "But given Jacob's standing as one of the top pitchers in Major League Baseball and his 2015 performance, his worth cannot be properly valued by a formula. Like the Mets, he is simply exercising his rights under the [collective bargaining agreement]. This will not affect Jacob's relationship with the Mets. Both parties are focused on preparing for the season and getting the Mets back to the World Series."

Of the Mets' 25 players on the 40-man roster who have yet to reach arbitration eligibility, only deGrom declined to sign his contract.

"That's the business side of the game," deGrom said. "That's why I hired my agents. I feel like I have some of the best in the business. It was a business decision that we decided to make. We have great respect for the Mets and the system that they have, and I feel like I have a great relationship with them.

"As I've said before, I love playing here. And I want to be in this uniform for a long time. It was just a decision based on the business side of the game."

DeGrom said he had no specific number in mind above the $607,000 assigned by the team.

"I don't think there was really a value that they put on it. It was just kind of a decision that was made between me and my agents," deGrom said. "We didn't sit down and say, 'Hey, here's a certain number that we need to agree on.'"

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he doesn't expect there to be any long-term repercussions from deGrom's decision.

"We, as is the case with most if not all of the clubs, have a fairly straightforward approach to determining salaries," Alderson said. "Yes, it is based on a formula, predicated on performance. And we're really talking about marginal differences in salaries. This is the first renewal we've had since I've been here, so the process has worked well. And we respect Jacob's right to take a renewal if that's what he feels and is best in his interest and we'll move on from there."

Alderson added that this wouldn't affect how the Mets deal with pre-arbitration players going forward.

Van Wagenen, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes -- another CAA client -- played golf Wednesday at Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Florida. So there appears to be no ill will.

The Mets similarly renewed David Wright's contract in 2006, and he has continued to have a positive relationship with the organization.

A similar issue recently arose with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who renewed young ace Gerrit Cole at $541,000 when he refused to sign his contract.

DeGrom is likely to be eligible for arbitration for the first time next offseason as a Super 2, because he should have two years, 139 days of major league service. That would mean he would have four years of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after the 2020 season.

The Mets at some point could sign deGrom to a multiyear extension that covers the arbitration years and some free agency.

"We haven't talked about anything yet," deGrom said. "I don't think this will affect that in any way. I think we're still open to discussions for long-term things. Nothing is in the works now."