The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly made contact with starting pitcher Jacob deGrom in free agency, but they aren't necessarily expecting to be able to sign him.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Rays have reached out to deGrom, however, they are "pessimistic" about their chances of signing him since they figure to get priced out of the market.
Rosenthal noted that deGrom is expected to land a contract worth more than $40 million per year over at least three years, which would make up about half of the club-record $83.9 million payroll the Rays had last season.
This reportedly isn't the first time the Rays have made at least some attempt to land a big fish in free agency, as they dipped their toe in the Freddie Freeman waters last year before the superstar first baseman signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Per ESPN's Buster Olney, the Rays offered Freeman deals of $140 million over six years or $150 million over seven years, but he instead signed a six-year, $162 million contract with L.A.
The Rays ultimately weren't too far off on their offers for Freeman, but it is hard to imagine them being willing to spend anywhere close to $40 million per season for deGrom, especially given his injury history.
Rosenthal noted that other aspects would likely have to appeal to deGrom in order for the Rays to land him, including pitching in his home state of Florida, not having to deal with state income tax and getting to pitch under highly touted pitching coach Kyle Snyder.
Regardless, other teams interested in deGrom will be able and willing to pay him "considerably" more, according to Rosenthal.
Several teams have been rumored to be in on deGrom, with Mike Puma of the New York Post reporting recently that the New York Mets would like to retain him, while the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Dodgers and Chicago Cubs have also shown interest.
Puma noted that deGrom would like to stay with the Mets as long as there isn't a "significant discrepancy" between the Mets' offer and offers made by other interested teams.
The 34-year-old deGrom has spent his entire nine-year MLB career with the Mets, earning four All-Star selections, one National League ERA title and two NL Cy Young Awards during that time.
Overall, deGrom is 82-57 in his career with a 2.52 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, plus he has struck out 1,607 batters in 1,326 innings.
He has not started more than 15 games in a single season since 2019, which marked his third consecutive season of at least 30 starts.
After getting off to a late start last season due to injury, deGrom ended up making 11 starts and went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 102 strikeouts over 64.1 innings.
The ERA was deGrom's highest since 2017, but his WHIP remained elite and his strikeout rate matched a career best set one year earlier, suggesting that deGrom remained a top-flight starter when healthy.
Bringing in an ace of deGrom's caliber would be a potential game-changer for a Rays team that often has to piece things together with openers and their bullpen, but it is easy to envision them getting priced out of the market.
Mets owner Steve Cohen has been outspoken about his willingness to spend huge money in order to field a World Series contender, and letting a prized player slip away to the Rays would represent bad optics, which is something Cohen would almost certainly like to avoid.