Just two days before the official start of the Winter Meetings, the free agent market is now down one ace. Jacob deGrom is off the board, and the star pitcher has decided to leave the Mets. deGrom is off to Texas, in a move that gives the Rangers a much-needed arm, but leaves the Mets with a massive hole in its rotation.
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Per ESPN, Jacob deGrom will receive a five-year contract to leave the Mets and head to Texas. The pitching-starved Rangers will reportedly pay deGrom $185 million dollars over the five years, in a deal that also includes an option for a sixth season.
What it means for the Rangers
It’s a lavish deal, but one that works well for both sides. For the Rangers, it gives Texas the ace the team desperately needed. The 2022 Rangers finished in the bottom half of the league in team ERA (22nd – 4.22) and quality starts (51 – 20th). That should improve, so long as deGrom is healthy.
The former NL Cy Young winner has been simply dominant since the start of 2018, and that’s certainly rung true since the beginning of last season. Since the start of 2021 (min. 150 IP), deGrom is first among pitchers in K% (44.0), K/9 (14.3), and second in ERA (1.90). Health, however, has been the story surrounding deGrom. Injuries forced the 35-year old to miss the second half of 2021, and the first four months of this past year.
And as for deGrom himself, the veteran right-hander does leave a strong New York Mets team. Jacob deGrom, however, goes to a team with a new manager, key offensive pieces in Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Adolis Garcia, and a relatively strong farm system. Plus, no state income tax in Texas had to have helped in that decision for deGrom.
Texas needed an arm like deGrom to compete with the likes of Houston and Seattle, and the Rangers now have one.
What it means for the Mets
Now, the focus of free agency shifts to the Mets. Three of the Mets’ starting pitchers (deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker) went to market last month, but there was hope in recent days that New York could retain Bassitt and deGrom. That, however, didn’t come to fruition.
New York has been linked to Carlos Rodon and AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander in recent days. That speculation should only continue to grow, especially since those two are both aces that can be obtained without conceding prospect currency.
Verlander’s prowess is well-documented, but Rodon could also be an adequate replacement. Since 2021, Rodon is in the top ten among pitchers in ERA (2.67) and total strikeouts (422) (min. 150 IP). Rodon is also second in K/9 (12.2), behind only the aforementioned deGrom.
If the Mets do choose to go the trade route to replace deGrom, it wouldn’t be a shock too many if Corbin Burnes become the apple of Steve Cohen’s attention. However, the haul to bring in someone like Burnes would be immense. Plus, it could also cost a piece of the Mets’ roster, like David Peterson. At least for now, though, the Mets do have options to replace the now-former ace of the rotation.