The Rangers announced they’ve signed Jacob deGrom to a five-year deal. It’s a $185MM guarantee, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal includes a full no-trade clause and a conditional option for the 2028 campaign that could take its total value to $222MM, according to Passan.
It’s the biggest move of the offseason to date and the latest massive free agent strike out of Arlington. The Rangers committed more than a half-billion dollars to the trio of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray last winter. That was designed to lay the foundation for a full-fledged return to contention in 2023. The Rangers didn’t see their desired steps forward from a win-loss perspective in 2022, largely because of a lackluster rotation behind Gray and Martín Pérez. Texas has suggested they were prepared to attack the top of the market to fortify the biggest weak point on the roster. They’ve done so with a shocking five-year deal for arguably the sport’s best pitcher.
deGrom is one of the most accomplished arms of his generation. While he fell to the ninth round of the 2010 draft and didn’t reach the majors until just shy of his 26th birthday in 2014, he immediately cemented himself as one of the game’s top pitchers. deGrom worked to a 2.69 ERA in his first 22 starts to secure the NL Rookie of the Year award and kick off a career as one of the league’s top hurlers.
The righty posted an ERA between 2.54 and 3.53 in each of the next three seasons, twice receiving down-ballot MVP support. Already a borderline ace, he took his game to new heights in 2018. deGrom twirled 217 innings with an MLB-best 1.70 ERA to secure his first Cy Young. The Mets inked him to a 120.5MM extension after that season. He followed up by repeating as the Senior Circuit’s best pitcher, claiming a second Cy Young with a 2.43 mark over 204 innings. He had another dominant season in the abbreviated 2020 campaign, and got off to one of the greatest first halves in history in ’21.
Through his first 15 starts that year, the four-time All-Star posted a microscopic 1.08 ERA while striking out an incredible 45.1% of opposing hitters. He was nagged by some minor health issues throughout the first few months, and that culminated in an injured list for forearm tightness right around the All-Star Break. While that wasn’t initially expected to lead to an extended absence, deGrom would wind up missing the remainder of the season. That September, New York president Sandy Alderson said deGrom had been dealing with a low-grade tear in his UCL, an eyebrow-raising assertion considering the right-hander had undergone Tommy John surgery before making his MLB debut. The pitcher refuted that, calling his ligament “perfectly fine.”
More to come.
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