Jacob deGrom free agency predictions: Mets and Dodgers top list of most likely landing spots
In Jacob deGrom’s last 102 starts for the Mets, the 6-4 right-hander has a 2.05 ERA, which pairs well with his 2.14 FIP and 25.2 bWAR.
In 645 1/3 innings, he has more than twice the number of strikeouts (876) as he has hits allowed (433), which is truly mind-blowing. When he’s healthy, he consistently throws pitches with triple-digit heat, and it’s watching deGrom pitch that you begin to really understand how even major league hitters can feel weak at home plate.
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However, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy lately. That’s the problem. He’s only made 15 starts in 2021 and 11 in 2022. He’s had an uncomfortable time on the injured list. For any other pitcher — especially a 34-year-old pitcher with a compensation pick attached — that would almost certainly crush his free agent market.
Not for deGrom, however. Did we mention he had a 2.05 ERA in his last 102 starts? Every time he steps on the mound, no-hit watches come into effect.
Many teams would like to see him wear their uniform next year. Not everyone can afford his price tag – it will almost certainly hit $40m a year – but as he’s 34, he doesn’t expect a five-year deal, bringing teams back into the conversation . There’s nothing a front office guy loves more than a short-term free agent deal.
So where could he sign? We’ll take a look.
Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Mets
This one is pretty obvious. As we’ve said before, it’s not just that the Mets want deGrom back because, well, he’s Jacob Freaking deGrom. They need starting pitching. Not just depth, but actual major league pitching options. Right now, they have Max Scherzer and a group of No. 4-5 types as candidates for the end of the rotation. Mets fans adore deGrom for his genius and almost give him a free pass for all the time he missed. Will other fans be just as forgiving if their favorite team gives him over $40 million a year and he pitches 78 innings, as he’s averaged the past two seasons?
Yes, but … Dominant deGrom’s appeal is great, and as we’ll get to, he’ll have plenty of suitors. The Mets aren’t the only team that will be willing to pay top dollar.
Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Dodgers
Like the Mets, the Dodgers have an exceptional team but need to be at the top of the rotation. Don’t underestimate their motivation to add players who can help win in October, and that’s what a healthy deGrom can do. I doubt anyone is too worried about a few bad starts at the end of the season. Who would be really surprised to see the Dodgers make a big throw for the big right-hander? If they aren’t in the conversation all the way with deGrom or Justin Verlander, we’d be pretty shocked. The kind of short-term, high-AAV contract he’ll get is right in the Dodgers’ wheelhouse.
Yes, but … maybe he doesn’t want to go west. Almost everything else makes sense.
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Why Jacob deGrom could sign with Rangers
Signing deGrom would help Rangers make a statement. Last year, if you recall, there was a lot of noise from Arlington about the Rangers being a real contender with the signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray. Not sure anyone really believed it, and the season went south quickly. But if they can convince a superstar like deGrom that they will be legitimate contenders for the next two seasons? It’s different. Especially if they could convince him to sign quickly, overpaying and adding an extra year/opt-outs that other teams might be willing to include. Because, “Hey, Jacob deGrom thinks we’re legitimate suitors, so you should play for us too.” is a pretty darn solid way to pitch a free agent pitch to other players.
Yes, but … does he believe the Rangers are suitors? Yes, they might overpay him, but deGrom already has a lot of money and each team is going to offer a lot of money. It’s hard to see him signing anywhere when he doesn’t think he has a legitimate shot at competing for World Series titles.
Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Braves
On the one hand, you have reporters in Atlanta saying the Braves might not make a splash in the FA market unless they spend the money to bring shortstop Dansby Swanson back into the fold. On the other hand, you have the parent company, Liberty Media, turning the Braves into a separate entity and explaining how the goal is to have a top-five payroll. Something has to give.
Signing deGrom would not only give Atlanta another ace at the top of its rotation, it would take an ace away from a fierce division rival. It’s a win-win. And, folks, the Braves can absolutely afford to sign deGrom to a short-term contract, even if they pay Swanson’s market value to stay in Georgia.
Yes, but … look, we’ll all believe the Braves will sign a big-dollar free agent after this happens, not before.
Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Cardinals
Yeah, this one is off the beaten path. But deGrom is a perfect fit, in more ways than one. For starters, he’s the starting pitcher whose otherwise solid rotation is sorely lacking. Add him to a mix that includes Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery and a healthy Steven Matz, and it’s a hell of a bunch, with other options for depth. And the Cardinals have been pretty open about expectations for payroll increases, so they have the cash to bring in deGrom on a short-term deal. For tax-conscious Cardinals, adding an impact player that doesn’t impact the long-term budget seems like the ideal scenario.
Yes, but … there’s a reason it’s outside the box. It still doesn’t seem likely.
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Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Yankees
After all the talk about the Mets possibly stealing Aaron Judge from the Yankees, how smart would it be for the Yankees to make the “steal” this offseason? At this point, it would do the Yankees good to go back to when they were the evil empire that just gobbled up all the good players they wanted.
Yes, but … the Yankees have a lot of areas that need attention, and while they would be a better team with deGrom in the rotation (obviously), it’s not high on the priority list. And teams that don’t have a Grom No. 1 or 2 on their priority list are unlikely to end up with him.
Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Phillies
Remember what we said about the Braves and signing deGrom away from a division rival? Same for the Phillies. Can you imagine entering a playoff series and facing the prospect of having to beat Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and deGrom? Yeah. And the short-term contract is also attractive. Like all the other teams.
Yes, but … adding a starting pitcher is not the top priority. Bringing in someone like Trea Turner would fill a much bigger need, and do the Phillies have the motivation to add two huge free agent plays this offseason? Doubtful.
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Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Giants
The Giants have plenty of cash on hand and even more motivation to turn things around after a rather miserable 2022 season that followed the magical 2021 campaign. It’s not unrealistic to think that the Giants could afford to sign at the both deGrom and Judge, and how great would that be for the fanbase? It would be the biggest influx of New York baseball stars to California since the Dodgers and Giants left the Big Apple decades ago.
Yes, but … it’s a bit like the situation in Texas. Does DeGrom believe in the Giants as World Series contenders in the next two seasons?
Prediction: Jacob deGrom will re-sign with the Mets
It’s not just that deGrom and the Mets have a long connection, it’s that the Mets really need starting pitchers if they’re going to compete for a playoff berth in 2023. And not just a playoff berth. , but the World Series. Beyond Max Scherzer, the starting launch closet is pretty empty at the moment. The Mets will be handing out a lot of money to starting pitchers this offseason, and it seems likely that deGrom will get a good chunk of that money.