NEW YORK, NY - JULY 24: Jeff McNeil #68 of the New York Mets smiles as he walks off the field in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres on July 24, 2018 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
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Hey, there was something to Jeff McNeil’s Citi Field visit earlier this week.

The Mets have locked down the reigning National League batting champion. They have signed McNeil to a four-year extension with a club option for a fifth season, according to ESPN. The deal — $50 million over the four years, or $12.5 million a year, with a bump to $13.75 million in Year 5 — allows player and team to avoid arbitration.

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The deal is certainly team-friendly. But it also makes sense for McNeil. The second baseman/outfielder turns 31 in April, was not scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2024 season and is not a big bopper. From ESPN:

Because McNeil wasn’t set to reach free agency until just before his age-33 season, the specter of teams penalizing him for his age, plus the market not necessarily rewarding contact-oriented players, made the extension more appealing. … The possibility that batting averages could pick up with the implementation of a pitch clock and a ban on defensive shifts could make McNeil’s skill set less unique.

The Mets’ 2023 payroll is now projected to be $467 million including luxury tax. And it will almost assuredly grow. Owner Steve Cohen has plenty of cash to redirect after the Carlos Correa deal fell through and the Mets could still use another bat. You also figure they will be aggressive at the trade deadline if needed. Oh, and a Pete Alonso contract extension now figures to be the next order of business.

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James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.