Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom was to undergo an MRI today, and the news isn’t positive for the former NL Cy Young Award winner. As per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, deGrom suffered a stress reaction in his right scapula. The Mets announced that DeGrom will be re-evaluated after being shut down for the next four weeks.
Between the shutdown, the necessary ramp-up period, and probably some natural caution given all of deGrom’s recent injuries, a 60-day IL placement seems likely. That would put deGrom on track for a June debut in a best-case scenario, and thus it will mean that the ace will be going roughly 11 months between Major League outings. DeGrom last pitched on July 7, 2021 before then suffering a forearm issue that wound up ending his season.
Between that forearm problem and multiple smaller injuries beforehand, deGrom pitched only 92 innings in 2021, though he was spectacular in that abbreviated campaign. DeGrom had a 1.08 ERA, 45.1% strikeout rate, and a 3.4% walk rate, and seemed to be on pace for a season for the ages. Despite all his missed time, deGrom’s performance still earned him a ninth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting.
If there is any silver lining to today’s news, a stress reaction is at least preferable to a more serious shoulder injury, as Passan writes that “typically, stress reactions are healed through rest.” Retired right-hander Brandon McCarthy (who suffered the same injury early in his career) also chimed in, tweeting that the stress reaction “really isn’t a big deal. Not as big as it seems. [DeGrom will] be just fine.”
With deGrom out of action, the Mets’ rotation depth will be tested again. Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, and the newly-acquired Chris Bassitt will now form the top four, and one of Tylor Megill, Trevor Williams, or David Peterson will step into that fifth starter’s role. It could be that the Mets use more than one of those hurlers as a starter, and as always, a new acquisition can’t be ruled out given how aggressive the Mets have been this winter. However, GM Billy Eppler told reporters (including Deesha Thosar of The New York Daily News) that deGrom’s injury doesn’t necessarily make a trade for pitching any more likely.
Beyond the short-term impact of the injury on deGrom’s status and on the Mets’ season, there is also a longer-term contractual situation looming. DeGrom has already stated that he plans to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract following the season, though naturally this latest injury could change his thinking. DeGrom is owed $33.5MM this season and $30.5MM in 2023, and New York has a $32.5MM club option on his services for 2024. If deGrom returns from his injury and posts his usual numbers, he’ll still surely opt out in search of a lengthier and more lucrative deal with the Mets or another team. Should he miss more time, however, or struggle following his return, it will create more of a decision for deGrom in choosing whether or not to test the open market.