Two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is available to sign with any team on the open market, but the New York Mets are confident that the prized free agent doesn't want to go anywhere.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that while the Mets know there's a chance deGrom walks in free agency, the team is prioritizing him this offseason and believes he is interested in staying put as well.
"Mets people seem to think he prefers to return (well, he could have fooled me!), and there's some concern about losing their homegrown uber-talent and watching him win Cy Young awards elsewhere, so he may still be their top remaining target," Heyman wrote.
Heyman also predicted that the Texas Rangers would be the team with the second-best chances to sign deGrom this offseason, but he listed the Tampa Bay Rays as a long shot despite the franchise's proximity to his hometown of DeLand, Florida. He noted that the Rays are not known for big spending in free agency, while deGrom will undoubtedly command a hefty price tag.
The 2022 season didn't go as deGrom had planned, as he was forced to miss the first few months because of a stress reaction in his shoulder. After making his season debut in August, he finished with a 5-4 record in 11 starts. He posted a 0.75 WHIP and 102 strikeouts in 64.1 innings pitched, but his 3.08 ERA was his first time with a plus-3.00 ERA since 2017.
DeGrom had a particularly tough finish to the regular season when he allowed three or more earned runs in four consecutive starts. However, he had a strong showing in Game 2 of the Mets' wild-card series against the San Diego Padres, allowing two runs with eight strikeouts in a 7-3 win. New York went on to lose the series in an upset after being pegged as a World Series contender earlier in the year.
While deGrom likely has multiple teams courting him in free agency, the Mets have a strong core that can once again contend for a title in 2023 if he decides to stay. Max Scherzer will surely be motivated after his postseason disappointment, and New York was able to retain star closer Edwin Diaz at the start of the offseason. Keeping deGrom in the mix would give the Mets a strong chance at bouncing back next season.