Mets lose Jacob deGrom - signs with Rangers for five-years, $185 million
deGrom's eight-year career with the Mets has officially come to an end
The Mets received a big blow on Friday night, as the Texas Rangers announced they have signed Jacob deGrom to a five-year contract.
The deal is for $185 million with a conditional sixth-year option, according to multiple reports.
According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Mets didn’t get a meaningful opportunity to formulate and make a final bid to deGrom today.
From a business perspective, the risks with deGrom - who has made 38 starts over the last three years thanks to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and injury-riddled 2021 and 2022 seasons - are well understood, and guaranteeing five years at $37.5 million per to a 34-year-old pitcher with recent arm trouble is as big of a high wire act as there can be. But Texas is in a position - like the Mets had been in previous seasons - where they need to turn their franchise into a destination for free agents and perhaps overpay to lure elite talent their way.
For the Mets, that it would seem they didn’t get a chance at a final offer is telling. Forgetting the Mets shouldn’t and perhaps wouldn’t guarantee five years to deGrom, it’s apparent by the end result deGrom was ready to move on if for no other reason he didn’t give the Mets the final word. That’s fine and his right as a player and a free agent in this process.
Now, there is some good news, even if it means deGrom is no longer a Met.
For starters (no pun intended), the Mets now have clarity on this particular situation before the Winter Meetings begin. Its not what anyone wanted for sure, but clarity is clarity and they are in a position to quickly pivot to front line alternatives.
Such alternatives will include Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodón for the top of their rotation, both of whom they met with over the last ten days. And with Verlander in particular, a trail has now been paved for the Mets to potentially invest in a high-dollar, short-term contract for the future Hall of Famer, who is now, “front and center” for the Mets after deGrom’s departure, according to SNY.
In addition to Verlander and Rodón, the Mets should still have the ability to pursue deals for Chris Bassitt, Kodai Senga or other pitchers of their ilk, the former they reportedly would like to retain and the latter they reportedly met with during his tour with major league clubs in November.
In addition, there is little reason not to bring Brandon Nimmo back into the fold as well as pursue long-term contract extensions for Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
The Mets will also receive draft compensation for deGrom’s departure to the Rangers - he received and rejected the Mets’ $19.65 million qualifying offer after the World Series.
Still, it’s a sad and disappointing ending to deGrom’s career with the Mets, the team that drafted and cultivated him into one of the elite pitchers of his generation, leaving with the lowest ERA of any Met starting pitcher in franchise history (min. 1000 IP) at 2.52 and the winner of consecutive Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.
And it’s that history is what made deGrom a unique case for the Mets in free agency this winter, even if the likelihood of a new contract ending poorly was more than a distinct possibility.
It’s important for professional sports franchises to be able to pin faces to their franchise, and make them lifelong players and personalities within their brand. The players are the product and in the end a club’s identity. It’s who the fans connect with and who young amateurs look up to and emulate. When we think of the Mets and their history, we immediately associate them with Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, David Wright and Jacob deGrom as the best to ever put on their uniform.
And while deGrom’s departure doesn’t change his stature with the franchise, the only one among this group who was truly a Met for life was Wright. Maybe Alonso - who can probably be considered that next face of the Mets - can be that player for them.
No matter, it was still important for the Mets to have done everything they could to complete this circle with deGrom and make his story the Mets and only the Mets. Hopefully they did. Its unfortunate it had to end this way regardless of who is to blame, or wherever or whenever this relationship went sour to the point deGrom didn’t feel it necessary to ask the Mets for a final offer.
Now, they must figure out what’s next, and probably quickly at that.