Rangers made their huge splash of rotation, announcing a deal with Jacob of Grom on a five-year contract. That’s a $185 million guarantee, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). The deal includes a full no-trade clause and a conditional option for the 2028 campaign that could take his total value to $222 million, according to Passan.
Athletic’s Levi Weaver reports the specific financial breakdown (on Twitter): deGrom will earn $30 million next season, followed by successive salaries of $40 million in 2024-25, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. no financial guarantee and the conditions of the option are not declared. deGrom is a customer of VC Sports Group.
“We’re thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Rangersaid general manager Chris Young in the press release. “Over several seasons, Jacob has been a standout Major League pitcher, and he gives us a dominant player at the top of our rotation. One of our main goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitcher, and we’re adding one of the best.”
It’s the biggest move of the offseason so far and the latest massive free agent strike at Arlington. The Rangers have committed more than half a billion dollars to the trio of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray last winter. This was designed to lay the groundwork for a full-fledged return to discord in 2023. Rangers have not seen the desired progress towards a win-loss prospect in 2022, largely due to a rotation dull behind Gray and martin perez. Texas suggested they were ready to attack the top of the market to fortify the biggest weak spot on the list. They did it with a shocking five-year contract for arguably the best pitcher in the sport.
deGrom is one of the most accomplished arms of his generation. Dropping in the ninth round of the 2010 draft and only making it to the majors just before his 26th birthday in 2014, he immediately established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. worked to a 2.69 ERA in his first 22 starts to win the NL Rookie of the Year award and launch a career as one of the league’s top pitchers.
The right-hander posted an ERA between 2.54 and 3.53 in each of the next three seasons, twice receiving support from Cy Young. Already a borderline ace, he took his game to new heights in 2018. deGrom twirled 217 innings with an MLB best of 1.70 to get his first Cy Young. The Mets signed him to a $120.5 million extension after that season. He went on to repeat as the top pitcher on the senior circuit, claiming a second Cy Young with a mark of 2.43 in 204 innings. He enjoyed another dominant season in the abbreviated 2020 campaign and had one of the greatest first halves in history in 21.
In his first 15 starts that year, the four-time All-Star posted a microscopic 1.08 ERA while knocking out an incredible 45.1 percent of opposing batters. He was plagued by a few minor health issues in the first few months, and that culminated in a stint on the disabled list for forearm tightness just around the All-Star break. Although this was not initially to result in an extended absence, deGrom would eventually miss the remainder of the season. In September, New York President Sandy Alderson said deGrom had to deal with a low-grade tear in his UCL, an eyebrow-raising claim given the right-hander had undergone Tommy John surgery before. to make his MLB debut. The pitcher refuted this, calling his ligament “perfectly fine”.
After a full offseason, deGrom was expected to return in 2022. At the end of spring training, he felt some pain during a pitching program between starts. He was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his shoulder blade and retired, and the injury ended up costing him the first four months of last season. By the time he returned to the mound in early August, more than a full calendar year had passed.
With that kind of layoff, one might have expected deGrom to show signs of rust. Instead, he returned as his peak, immediately dominating his opponents once again. The Stetson product averaged an absurd 98.9 MPH on its fastball and 92.6 MPH on the cutter/slider that serves as its secondary offering of choice. He knocked out 42.7% of opponents against a tiny 3.3% walk percentage. Opposing batters have swung and missed at 21.1% of his total pitches; no other pitcher starting with more than 50 innings had a hit rate above 17%. He struck out eight in six innings in his only playoff start against San Diego.
A three-home run outing to Atlanta to end his season boosted deGrom’s ERA to 3.08 in his shortened season, but there’s no doubt he’s still capable of performing at his peak if he is in good health. No pitcher on the planet is as dominant as deGrom on a per-start basis. Predictably, he opted out of the final $32.5 million of his deal with the Mets at the end of the season.
As high as that signing might be for the Rangers, there’s certainly a lot of risk in that kind of commitment to a pitcher who’s lost significant chunks over the past two seasons with arm issues. He has worked just 162 1/3 innings (including the playoffs) since the start of 2021. Although deGrom has no control over the prorated season in 2020, he will still be expected to takes on a full rotational workload despite only pitching 224 1/3 cumulative innings over the last three years.
deGrom turns 35 in June. Nothing indicates that it is on the verge of a regression in its performance. Texas’ commitment lasts through its 39-year campaign, and it’s possible the deal could slip if its form falls apart later in its 30s. Now a former teammate Max Scherzer and another best free agent Justin Verlander showed that it was out of the question for a pitcher to stay at the top of his game as he approached his forties. Neither Scherzer nor Verlander had faced the kind of mid-30s injuries that plagued deGrom, however.
The $185 million guarantee significantly exceeds MLBTR’s three-year $135 million forecast at the start of the offseason. It’s the sixth-biggest contract for a free agent pitcher in MLB history, behind only Gerrit Cole ($324 million), Stephane Strasbourg ($245 million), David Price ($217 million), Scherzer ($210 million with Nationals) and Zack Greinke ($206.5 million). The deal contains an average annual value of $37 million which ranks second among all deals in major league history. Only Scherzer’s three-year deal with the Mets — which totaled $43.333 million per season — is higher.
Next year’s $30 million payroll will bring Texas’ projected payroll commitments for 2023 to about $170 million. That would be a franchise record for the Rangers, but there’s no indication the organization plans to cut spending anytime soon. Owner Ray Davis and Young have each indicated there is room for the club to be active in the open market, and there is still a lot of work to do to turn their 68-win list into a contender in an AL. West difficult. Young and skipper Bruce Bochy are each heading into their first full season at the helm, and they expect to break a six-year playoff drought.
deGrom rises to the top of a rotation that brings back Gray and Pérez, who accepted a qualifying offer. Rangers acquired Jake Odorizzi Braves at the start of the offseason, and Danish Dunning is a decent arm back from the rotation. It’s a viable starting five, but the team’s depth of rotation is still lacking and they could add another arm from outside the organization. The infield and the receiver are in great shape. Adolis Garcia is the only outfielder to guarantee daily reps, leaving two spots that could be dealt with, and the team plans to add at least one reliever.
The contract contains a luxury tax of $37 million. The average annual values of a team’s commitments are relevant for competitive tax balance purposes. DeGrom’s signing earns Texas about $192 million in estimated CBT numbers, per roster resource, leaving them about $40 million shy of the lower threshold of $233 million.
The Mets will quickly have to turn the page by bidding farewell to one of the best pitchers in franchise history. New York has also seen Chris Bassit, Taijuan walker and Trevor Williams hitting free agency. They are sure to add to a starting staff led by Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco. Free agency offers Verlander pocket aces remaining and Carlos Rodon, and the highest-spending Mets were previously tied to both pitchers. Losing deGrom only increases their urgency to bring in one of those two pitchers, and they’ll have to keep or replace the free agent’s center fielder. Brandon Nimmo.
New York receives modest compensation for deGrom’s departure. The team made him a qualifying offer early in the offseason, which he rejected. As the team that paid the luxury tax in 2022, New York receives the lowest compensation: a pick past the fourth round of next year’s amateur draft. Rangers have neither paid the luxury tax nor received revenue sharing this year. They will therefore give up their second-highest pick in next year’s draft and lose $500,000 in international signing bonus space. If they signed another qualified free agent this offseason — Seager and Semien both declined a QO last winter — they would be stripped of their third-highest selection.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
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