3 Instant Reactions to Jacob deGrom Signing with Rangers

Erin WalshDecember 3, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets walks out of the fourth inning against the San Diego Padres in game two of the Wild Card Series at Citi Field on October 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Mets are going to need a new ace.

Star pitcher Jacob deGrom has agreed to a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers, the club announced Friday. The deal is worth $185 million and has a sixth-year option that could make it worth $222 million in total, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.

The Mets never made a final offer to deGrom, per Mike Puma of the New York Post.

DeGrom, in search of a more lucrative deal, became a free agent this winter after opting out of the final two years and $53 million on his five-year contract with the Mets. He had spent the first nine years of his career in New York, emerging as one of the best arms in baseball despite a string of injuries.

In his nine seasons with the Mets, the two-time Cy Young winner and four-time All-Star went 82-57 with a 2.52 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings across 209 starts.

DeGrom's best season came in 2018 when he went 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 269 strikeouts in 217 innings across 32 starts en route to his first-ever Cy Young award. He also won the Cy Young in 2019.

However, things got rough for deGrom after winning back-to-back Cy Youngs. He was limited to just 15 starts in 2021 because of an elbow injury and made just 11 starts in 2022 because of a shoulder ailment.

That said, he was still effective in each of those seasons when he did pitch. In 26 starts across 2021 and 2022, the 34-year-old posted a 12-6 record, 1.90 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 248 strikeouts in 156.1 innings.

Despite the injuries, the Rangers are still getting one heck of an arm for their rotation. So, here's three instant reactions from Texas' blockbuster signing.

Rangers Prove They're Ready to Contend in 2023

Despite the additions of Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, the Rangers finished fourth in the American League West in 2022 with a 68-94 record and missed the postseason for the sixth straight year.

While the signing of deGrom may not truly make the Rangers contenders in the division alongside the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners, the club has at least proven it is sick of being a cellar-dweller and is ready to contend.

The Rangers were in desperate need of an ace on the mound following a disappointing 2022 campaign from its starters, and they did more than just address that need in signing deGrom.

Last season, the Rangers starting pitching ranked 25th in MLB with a 4.63 ERA. The only teams that were worse were the Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals.

In 2023, deGrom will anchor a Texas rotation that includes Jon Gray, Jake Odorizzi and Martín Pérez, who was one of the team's best arms last season, posting a 12-8 record with a 2.89 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 32 starts.

The signing of deGrom proves the Rangers are willing to spend in order to improve, and they should at the very least post more wins in 2023 than they did in 2022. Even if they don't, they're ready to build their rotation around deGrom in the years to come.

How Will Mets Replace DeGrom?

Let's be clear, there's no replacing deGrom. However, the Mets will need to at least attempt to address the hole his departure left in the rotation.

As it stands, Max Scherzer will serve as the team's No. 1 in 2023, and while the three-time Cy Young winner had a solid 2022 campaign, there's no question he's past his prime at 38. He posted a 11-5 record last season with a 2.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 145.1 innings across 23 starts.

Beyond Scherzer, the Mets' rotation is filled out by Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill. With some top-tier talent still available on the market, it's hard to believe the club won't add another arm this winter.

Even before deGrom's exit, the Mets have sought out some of the top available free agent pitchers this winter, including Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Jameson Taillon and Carlos Rodón.

Of course, all are being pursued by many, but with deGrom's contract off the books, the Mets should be making some interesting offers to some of the top arms available, especially after locking up superstar closer Edwin Díaz to a five-year, $102 million deal.

It's unclear which of those arms, if any, are New York's top target following deGrom's exit. However, Verlander should at least be very high on the list.

The 39-year-old is coming off arguably his best season in 2022, posting an 18-4 record, 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 175 innings across 28 starts. He also won the Cy Young award, the third of his career.

What's even more impressive is that Verlander accomplished the feat after missing all but one game in 2020 and the entire 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Will DeGrom Be Worth the Money?

$185 million—and potentially up to $222 million—is a lot of money to commit to deGrom. One of the biggest questions following this signing is: Will deGrom be worth the money?

The simple answer is that it all comes down to health.

If deGrom remains mostly healthy throughout his five-year career, then it's reasonable to believe he will be more than worth the $185 million the Rangers committed to him. But if he's constantly out of the lineup with injuries, then there's a problem.

DeGrom hasn't made more than 15 starts in a season since he made 32 starts and won the Cy Young in 2019. While that was just four years ago, he has endured a significant amount of injuries since then, including elbow inflammation, a stress reaction in his scapula and forearm tightness.

However, the Rangers will likely keep a close eye on deGrom throughout his tenure knowing that he has been injury-prone over the last few seasons. Managing his starts will be key to keeping him healthy through the duration of his contract.

There should be optimism about deGrom entering 2023, but fans will undoubtedly be concerned if he misses a significant amount of time next season.