The Mets’ Jacob deGrom era is over.
DeGrom, a former college shortstop and ninth-round draft pick who blossomed into a two-time Cy Young Award winner and maybe the second-best pitcher in franchise history in the course of more than a decade with the Mets’ organization, abandoned the only professional team he has known on Friday night for a gigantic contract with the Rangers: five years worth a reported $185 million.
The deal was done, the physical passed and the final language agreed upon when it was announced by the team at 8 p.m. The Rangers plan to hold a news conference to introduce deGrom at their Globe Life Field next week after the winter meetings (which run through Wednesday in San Diego).
“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” general manager Chris Young, another former Mets pitcher, said in a statement. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major-league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.”
DeGrom’s departure left the Mets pivoting to other ways to shore up a team that won 101 games but fell short of a division title last season. Among their options: reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon, who has been an All-Star the past two seasons. They also have to figure out whether to re-sign or replace centerfielder/leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo, their top remaining free agent.
The Mets figure to bring in at least two additional established starting pitchers. Only Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco remain from the 2022 rotation, with David Peterson, Tylor Megill and others serving as depth candidates. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker are free agents.
Now they know with certainty that deGrom will not be part of that picture. He finished his Mets tenure as the franchise leader in ERA at 2.52, a sliver ahead of Tom Seaver’s 2.57. He also is fourth in strikeouts (1,607) and tied for seventh in wins (82) despite an infamous lack of support from the Mets’ offense during his 2018-19 peak, when he won consecutive Cy Young Awards.
DeGrom’s average annual salary of $37 million is the second highest in MLB history behind Scherzer ($43.3 million). He also had a conditional sixth-year option that would take the contract to $222 million total, according to ESPN, which was the first to report the terms of the deal. The contract also includes a full no-trade clause.
The deal comes with plenty of risk for the Rangers. DeGrom has been the best pitcher in the world during the past half-decade — 2.05 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, nearly seven strikeouts for each walk, a fastball that consistently reached 100 mph — but in the past couple of years, that came with a significant caveat: He was the best when healthy, and too often he wasn’t.
DeGrom hasn’t thrown even 100 innings since 2019. He dealt with at least 11 physical ailments from July 2020 through March 2022, including elbow problems in the second half of 2021 and a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade that cost him the first half of 2022. After returning in August, having missed more than a full year, he made 11 starts and posted a 3.08 ERA.
Upon arriving at spring training in March, deGrom declared that he would opt out of his contract after the season. The five-year, $137.5 million deal he signed right before the start of the 2019 season was supposed to run through 2023, but deGrom passed on the last season (and $30.5 million) to become a free agent for the first time.
“That’s the business side of baseball. As a player, you build in opt-outs and that’s the business side of it,” deGrom said in March. “I’ve said it before: I love being a Met. I think it would be really cool to be one for my entire career.”
DeGrom’s Rangers will visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.
Great While It Lasted
Jacob deGrom’s career stats as a Met:
Rookie of Year (2014)
All-Star 4 (2015, ’18, ’19, ’21)
Cy Young 2 (2018, ’19)