Jacob deGrom is expected to have many suitors this winter, but according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the veteran right-hander prefers to stay in Queens. While any deal would require a significant investment, Puma writes that provided there’s not a major discrepancy between offers, deGrom would rather re-sign in New York.
deGrom opted out of his contract at the end of the season, and his free agency will be a fascinating one. The 34-year-old is unquestionably one of the most talented pitchers in the game and deserves to be paid accordingly, but his age and injury history will make teams leery of a long term commitment. According to Puma, the Mets are steering clear of a four or five year commitment, instead preferring to give deGrom a shorter contract that could include option years based on the pitcher meeting certain incentives.
The long term concerns over deGrom are justified, he didn’t pitch at all between July 7, 2021 and August 2, 2022 due to multiple injury problems. Upon returning, he was his usual dominant self, striking out a staggering 42.7% of batters against a 3.4% walk rate on the way to a 3.08 ERA over 11 starts. In fact, whenever healthy he’s been an unbelievably dominant pitcher, pitching to a career 2.59 ERA over 209 starts.
It’s a huge risk/reward free agency given the enormous AAV deGrom will command, but a host of big-market contending clubs will be interested. Puma notes that deGrom places a high value on winning, and believes the Mets are in a position to contend for World Series titles regularly, aiding their case. MLBTR predicted a three-year, $135MM deal for deGrom, which would give him a record AAV of $45MM, just eclipsing the $43.33MM AAV Max Scherzer got from the Mets a year ago.
That sort of commitment would take the Mets’ payroll close to the estimated $282MM mark from this season (per RosterResource), and with other holes in their rotation and bullpen particularly it seems likely their payroll will push closer to $300MM in 2023. The Mets currently have Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill pencilled in as rotation options, so they’ll almost certainly be in the market for multiple starters this winter, even after a possible deGrom signing.