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Jacob deGrom an 'Organization-Changing' Free-Agent Talent, MLB Evaluator Says

Adam WellsNovember 25, 2022

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) delivers a pitch during the Friday evening MLB game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves on September 30, 2022 at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite being limited to 26 starts over the past two seasons, Jacob deGrom is still highly regarded around Major League Baseball as he seeks a new contract in free agency.

A talent evaluator for one team told The Athletic's Will Sammon that deGrom is a "potentially organization-changing" talent who "possesses the best stuff across the board" in MLB.

There is an expectation that the two-time National League Cy Young winner could sign the richest contract by average annual salary in MLB history this offseason. The record is $43.3 million, held by deGrom's 2022 New York Mets teammate Max Scherzer.

Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million deal with the Mets in November 2021.

Ben Clemens of FanGraphs predicts deGrom will sign a three-year, $141 million deal ($47 million per season).

Injuries caused deGrom to miss 13 months from July 2021 to August 2022. He sat out the final two months of the 2021 campaign with forearm tightness and elbow soreness.

The Mets placed deGrom on the injured list prior to the start of this season because of a stress reaction in his right scapula. The four-time All-Star didn't debut until Aug. 2.

He mostly looked like his usual self in the latter half of last season. He threw at least five innings in each of his first nine starts and posted a 3.08 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 64.1 innings overall.

One encouraging sign is deGrom's fastball velocity was the second-fastest of his career (98.9 mph), per FanGraphs. He ranked in the 90th percentile or better in several key categories, including strikeout percentage (100), walk percentage (99), whiff percentage (99), chase rate (98) and fastball spin rate (97), per Statcast.

There were some hiccups, at least by deGrom's usual standards, down the stretch. He allowed at least three earned runs in four consecutive starts from Sept. 13 to 30. He gave up six homers during that span, including three in a Sept. 30 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

A contract of the type deGrom is expecting carries significant risk. He is 34 years old and hasn't pitched a full season since the COVID-shortened 60-game campaign in 2020.

The last time deGrom surpassed 100 innings in a season was 2019. There is the potential for massive upside if he remains healthy in 2023. It certainly makes him worth a significant financial investment, especially for a team trying to win a World Series next season.