We finally got a big move in baseball’s offseason yesterday, as former Met Jacob deGrom agreed on a contract with the Texas Rangers.
BREAKING: Right-hander Jacob deGrom has signed a five-year, $185 million contract with the Texas Rangers, sources tell ESPN. Physical is passed. Deal is done. Includes conditional sixth-year option that would take total deal to $222 million. Full no-trade clause. A massive haul.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 3, 2022
Phillies fans are well familiar with deGrom, and there won’t be many shedding a tear over his departure from the division. In 20 career starts against the Phillies, deGrom has a 9-1 record with a 2.18 ERA. To be fair, he’s put up great numbers against everyone - there’s a reason why he’s often mentioned in the “best pitcher in baseball” discussion - but the Phillies certainly won’t be upset that they no will no longer have to face him up to five times a year.
It’s also good for the Phillies because this move hurts the Mets. But it might not be as devastating a blow to their division rivals as it seems. Obviously, every team in baseball would want a pitcher of deGrom’s caliber in their rotation, but the biggest problem for the Mets has been that he hasn’t actually been in their rotation as often as they would like.
Through the 2019 season, deGrom was as durable as anyone, regularly making 30+ starts in a season. But since then, he’s dealt with injuries, and has averaged less than 13 starts each year. That number is skewed by the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but he’s only made 26 total starts since 2021, and in 2022, he didn’t make his first start until August.
Given those durability concerns, it isn’t surprising the Mets didn’t want to give him a five-year deal. deGrom is 34 years old, and if a pitcher has health concerns, those tend to not get better as he enters his late 30s.
I don’t get the deGrom deal from the Rangers standpoint. Yeah he’s good when he pitches, but the key word there is “when”. He’s 34 and has made 26 starts the last 2 years. You really want to give him $185M over 5 years?— Evan (@elewis93) December 3, 2022
Given the Mets’ ownership’s deep pockets and belief that they are legitimate World Series contenders, it seems likely they make a move to replace him, and there’s a good chance the replacement will be more durable. For instance, Carlos Rodon can’t match deGrom’s dominance, but maybe getting 30 very good starts is better than getting fewer than 20 excellent ones.
As for Phillies fans who thought they’d seen the last of deGrom, I have some bad news: The Phillies are scheduled to play the Texas Rangers on Opening Day, and it seems very likely that we’ll be seeing a very familiar face on the mound for the Rangers that day.