The Mets’ worst offseason nightmare was realized on Friday night when Jacob deGrom spurned the Mets in favor of the Texas Rangers.
The right-hander signed a five-year contract with Texas just 48 hours before the start of the winter meetings in San Diego. The Rangers did not disclose the financial terms but ESPN’s Jeff Passan has the number at $185 million over five years and $222 million with a conditional option for a sixth year and full no-trade protection.
It’s a devastating blow to the team that drafted him out of Stetson University in the ninth round of the 2010 draft. The Mets found the converted shortstop and helped develop him into one of the premier pitchers in the world.
In a sense, deGrom was a beacon of hope for Mets fans. Following the 2015 World Series, the Mets fell from the standings and missed the playoffs each year from 2017-2021. The pitchers they built the team around also fell around deGrom and the vaunted “Five Aces” rotation never ended up pitching the Mets to the postseason.
DeGrom was the only remaining pitcher from that rotation, and he briefly extended the Mets’ season this fall with a gutsy performance in Game 2 of the NL wild card series against the San Diego Padres.
For a while, he lived up to the hope and the hype, even if the rest of the team didn’t. He was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2014 and won back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019. His 10 wins in 2018 were the fewest by a Cy Young Award-winning starting pitcher in history. A four-time All-Star who received MVP votes in 2017 and 2018, he became one of the most prolific pitchers of a generation.
But then the injuries came and there were questions about whether or not he wanted to pitch. He missed time in 2020 and missed significant time in 2021 and 2022. Earlier in his career, he underwent Tommy John surgery and ulnar nerve transposition surgery. Many wondered if he was done but each time he returned to pitch he proved to be one of the best to do it.
Despite being 34 years old, he’s still managed to increase his velocity nearly every year since 2018. His fastball often reaches triple digits and he throws a devastating slider in the high 90s. Even aside from possessing some of the nastiest stuff in baseball, he has a feel for pitching that can’t be taught.
He concludes a nine-year Mets career with an 82-57 record, a 2.52 ERA and a 2.62 FIP.
DeGrom announced his intention to opt out of the remaining years of his contract last spring. He did not discuss his decision and he declined to discuss free agency after the conclusion of the season.
The Rangers emerged as a suitor early on in the process. The club hired three-time World Series-winning manager Bruce Bochy in October and promised him they would continue to be aggressive in continuing the rebuild. Last winter, the club committed more than half a billion dollars to Corey Seager, Marcus Semiem and Jon Gray.
Pitching was a clear weakness for the Rangers and they have now addressed it in a big way.
The Mets reportedly never got deep into the process with him and his representatives.
“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout Major League pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this off-season is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”
A source told the Daily News that the Mets had discussed a deal in the three-year range. A five-year contract for a 34-year-old who has not pitched a full major league season since 2019 carries significant risk, but if he wins the Rangers a World Series it will be worth it.
Now, the Mets have to figure out how to rebuild nearly their entire rotation with its ace. There are high-profile options on the free agent market, like Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon. The Mets will now have to act as aggressively as the Rangers in order to put together a winning rotation behind Max Scherzer.
Source: Berkshire mont