MLB Insider: How do the Mets respond after losing Jacob deGrom?

Jacob deGrom, New York Mets. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

How do the Mets respond after losing Jacob deGrom?

The biggest threat to sign Jacob deGrom away from the New York Mets has always been the Texas Rangers.

On Friday night, deGrom and the Rangers agreed to terms on a five-year, $185 million contract that includes a conditional sixth-year option that can make the contract worth up to $222 million. The physical is complete. The deal is done.

It’s an incredible deal for both deGrom and the Rangers. But it comes with incredible risk.

DeGrom is entering his age-35 season. He’s coming off an injury-ridden season in which he threw 64.1 innings, just two more than his former teammate and All-Star closer Edwin Diaz (62). He’s totaled only 26 starts and 156.1 innings over the last two years. A deal that averages $37 million, the second-highest annual average value for a starting pitcher in major-league history, is a massive gamble.

But if there’s ever a pitcher to gamble on, it’s deGrom. He’s arguably the most talented pitcher in baseball. In nine major-league seasons, he’s posted a 2.52 ERA, a 1607/303 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and won two Cy Young Awards. And now the two-time Cy Young Award winner heads a Texas rotation under future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy.

The Rangers committed $500 million to Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last winter. In the last 366 days, they have committed $764 million to Seager, Semien, deGrom, Jon Gray, and Martin Perez. They are all-in, and they aren’t done, especially with the division-rival Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners being aggressive on the free-agent and trade markets.

With deGrom going to the Rangers, how do the Mets respond?

The Mets have met with both free-agent pitchers Carlos Rodon and Justin Verlander via Zoom. The meetings were a feeling-out process by both and for each sides to gather information. For the Mets, those meetings now prove particularly valuable. With deGrom going off the board early, the Mets now have that information at their disposal to pivot to either Rodon or Verlander if they choose.

The Mets have other options. They have shown interest in re-signing starter Chris Bassitt and Kodai Senga, who is considered to be the best pitcher among the Tier 2 starters. They could explore the trade market, which features names such as Miami Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. Another option could be overwhelming the Brewers for either Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff, but Milwaukee’s front office has indicated to other teams that neither starter is available.

Still, the Mets have to do something, and they will. The pressure is on general manager Billy Eppler to get this right, especially after losing a likely Hall of Fame pitcher in deGrom. The Rangers, meanwhile, are clearly trying to win a World Series — and rival executives are now closely watching what may be coming next.

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