JUPITER, Fla. — For Jacob deGrom, this is the final countdown — to his self-imposed deadline for a contract extension and to his Opening Day date with the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, both of which he is excited about.
The Mets’ ace said he remains optimistic that he and the team can work out a long-term deal by the start of the regular season, which is about two weeks away. Instead of getting personally involved in those negotiations, though, deGrom said he has let his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, “do his thing.”
“I try to eliminate as many things as I can and just focus on getting guys out,” deGrom said Tuesday. “Being a part of the future is definitely something I would like to be. That was a goal of mine. I think we’re hopeful, so we’ll just see what happens.”
Said general manager Brodie Van Wagenen: “I’m not going to put a label on it. [There have been] discussions. There’s been open dialogue, and I think that’s important.”
DeGrom spoke after making his fourth Grapefruit League start, a five-inning, 80-pitch outing in an 8-1 loss to the Marlins. His slider was lacking, he said, but he accomplished his primary goal of getting his pitch count up. He struck out six, walked none, scattered six hits and allowed two runs — both on a home run by Brian Anderson.
Up next is a start Sunday against the Nationals, then one last exhibition tune-up.
After that, it’s the first Opening Day assignment of deGrom’s career — against Scherzer, the runner-up to deGrom in last year’s NL Cy Young Award voting.
“That’s who you want to start against,” deGrom said. “That’s why we do this, to compete.”
Tim Peterson’s two-thirds of an inning Tuesday brought his spring line to five hitless innings with six strikeouts and one walk, positioning him well in the Mets’ bullpen competition.
“He’s been outstanding,” Mickey Callaway said. “Some of the other guys probably need to take note…But he throws strikes, he gets ahead, he doesn’t beat himself, he executes pitches. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Jed Lowrie (strained left knee) has started hitting and throwing, Van Wagenen said. The Mets haven’t publicly ruled out Lowrie and Todd Frazier (strained left oblique) for the start of the regular season…Top prospect Andres Gimenez, among the Mets’ cuts from big league camp Tuesday, will open the year with Double-A Binghamton. “For a guy that age  to come into major-league camp and be able to play at this level is pretty impressive,” Van Wagenen said…The Mets will work out at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse March 26.