Whether or not Jacob deGrom will be in New York Mets blue and orange next season will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the offseason.
Ahead of the 2022 season, the decorated righty made it clear that he planned to opt out of his five-year, $137.5M contract despite having another year remaining and a team option for 2024. And even though injuries limited his season to August and September, he’s reportedly sticking to that plan.
Opting out doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t stay with the Mets, but after their stunning fumble of the division title and subsequent first-round exit from the Wild Card series, he might finally be ready to hitch his wagon to a postseason star.
But which one?
Not the Boston Red Sox, if MLB.com has any inkling of what’s to come.
According to Mark Feinsand, the Mets are still his most likely landing spot. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a close second, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given their propensity to spend. Then there’s the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, and a somewhat dark-horse candidate, the Baltimore Orioles. Their front office did say they plan to spend this offseason.
None of these teams are particularly surprising landing sports. What is somewhat surprising is that Boston isn’t included in these rankings. Like the Dodgers and Padres, the Sox have significant money coming off the book, in large part due to pitchers hitting free agency. They have more space under the luxury tax threshold than the Giants, and certainly more than the Braves, who’ve been extending everyone lately.
So, what gives? The Sox not being perceived as legitimate suitors likely comes down to two factors. First, they don’t seem realistic for deGrom because he wants to sign with a team that has a chance of winning the World Series and they just finished the season under .500 and in last place in their division. Second, people don’t think they’re actually going to spend this winter. What’s ironic about that is that historically, the Sox have been more inclined to pay free agents than homegrown talents. Just look at the Jon Lester debacle and subsequent overcorrection, David Price. Coincidentally, the Sox inked Price after a 78-84 season, the same record they had this year.
These are only predictions, and the Sox could decide to throw a zillion dollars at the man affectionately known as ‘deGOAT.’ However, while many Sox fans would love to see him headline the starting rotation, he would be a pricey risk to take. deGrom turns 35 next June, and – aside from the truncated 2020 season – hasn’t completed anything close to a full campaign since 2019, when he won his second consecutive Cy Young. That year, he threw 200+ innings for the third consecutive season; he’s thrown 224 1/3 innings combined over the three seasons since. The Sox are already saddled with Chris Sale and his unfortunate proneness for injury.
While deGrom is one of the best pitchers in recent history (when healthy), ultimately, he’s exactly the kind of free agent the Sox need to stop getting distracted by. Their money needs to be spent locking in Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers and overhauling the pitching staff. Someone will empty their coffers for deGrom; the Sox need to do so for their own guys.