Six words came to mind upon hearing the Rangers’ announcement of the $185 million, five-year deal for Jacob deGrom: Not worth it. Not even close.
The Mets suggested a touch of regret behind the scenes Friday night, and maybe even a little recrimination, over a possible misread of the market. But the reality is, this is no cause for remorse. This is crazy money.
Nutty or not, good for Texas for wanting to get back in the ballgame in a big way. But is deGrom — who threw virtually the same number of 2022 innings as closer Edwin Diaz, and unlike Diaz not ever the eighth or ninth inning — worth double what Diaz got?
Is deGrom — who’s virtually the same age as Clayton Kershaw and not nearly as accomplished — worth nine times in total pay what Kershaw is reportedly getting?
The answers are so obvious it’s not worth this extra sentence.
The Mets made a very generous initial offer of three years for what is believed to be close to $40 million a year — yes, a little more per year than Texas — and maybe they would have gone to a fourth year. And really even that’s too much. Anyway, the Mets were blown out of the water by a determined (some might say desperate) Rangers team whose bid is even better when one considers Texas has no state tax.
The Mets never were going to go anywhere near 185 very large, and they need to remember now that while he always brought the promise of more Cy Youngs, deGrom only led the league lately in MRI exams.
DeGrom is a magician on the mound, but he made it there only infrequently in 2021 and ’22.
DeGrom has the promise of an all-time great, but he has won 82 games. That’s 22 fewer than Carlos Carrasco, who the Mets debated long and hard about before finally picking up his $14 million option (good thing they did!).
A longtime baseball executive tried to explain to me the other day why deGrom was going to break the bank. “DeGrom’s pure stuff is just so good you dream on what could be,” he said.
Baseball people obviously love deGrom’s arm. But isn’t a little silly we are still talking about potential of a 34-year-old?
Anyway, let the Rangers happily have that fantasy.
Mets people, meanwhile, predictably seemed upset their homegrown uber talent was gone, and that reaction isn’t surprising since they were surely bracing for a negative reaction from fans, and also need to figure out a way to replace a talent in a starting pitching market that is clearly out of control.
But I’m here to remind him that this isn’t Tom Seaver leaving town. This is a guy whose abilities far exceeded his accomplishments and who, at least in the final couple years, seemed very unhappy — presumably either unhappy to be in New York, or unhappy to have signed a contract he detested. It’s hard to know for sure, but one Mets executive said he doesn’t think deGrom is about money but merely preferred to be out of New York, even if a few teammates incorrectly suggested they believed he preferred to return.
Some Mets people seemed to think somehow things were turning the corner, and maybe they were to a degree. But he seemed sullen a lot from here, and word is, deGrom’s people got early word to Texas they were interested. That shouldn’t surprise. He’s very much a DeLand, Fla., guy. Folks around the team say this came out in the pandemic when he openly talked against northern rules and masks and vaccinations, even though it meant extra precautions and greater risk to the team (he wasn’t alone there, as the Mets were one of the least vaccinated teams).
Anyway, the Mets should be rejoicing over the savings now, and one Mets person did embrace a bright side, noting that deGrom decided so early that there is plenty of time to pivot. They’ve already been in touch with second and third choices — Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon — who will both turn out to be better deals somewhere.
Mets owner Steve Cohen is said to be “tempted” by the idea of a reunion of Verlander with his former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer, and though the pair wasn’t known to be close back in Michigan, they’d form a Hall of Fame tandem to outdo any other.
Either Verlander or Rodon would fit New York better, and probably enjoy it more. Maybe the Mets need to re-evaluate a market going out of control to have a real shot at either guy, but either of these two makes more sense, even if neither happened to be drafted by the Queens team. Verlander likes the big stage, and he and his wife, Kate Upton, seem made for New York.
Rodon performed happily in big-market Chicago and San Francisco, and seems to have found his game — and more importantly — his health. The Mets need at least two more starters now — the Yankees’ Jameson Taillon is another guy they’ve been talking to — so there’s work to do. But in the end, it says here the Mets will end up being much better off.