It may be time for the Mets to move on from Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom, more artist than producer in recent times, thrilled us with his genius these last seven years. But it may be time for the Mets to move on.

Oh, I got it. He’s one of the greatest talents ever to pitch in the majors. He’s a deserving two-time Cy Young winner who appeared on his way to his best year ever in 2021 when injuries derailed him for 13 months.

He throws 102 miles an hour on a good day, 99 on a bad one. The slider is unhittable when right. He’s a maestro, and the fans understandably love to watch him perform.

But at some point you have to weigh quantity and quality, production and cost, dollars and dependability. He may be the greatest cameo player in major league history. But it makes little sense to make a part-time performer the game’s highest-paid player.

I polled three prominent agents (not his own) as to what he will command on the open market, and he will be free as he surely will make good on his twice-told promise to opt out since he’ll do much better than his current contract. I didn’t need to consult experts to know he can beat $30.5 million guaranteed, especially now that he finished the season lighting up radar guns and mostly looking like himself. “Simple Man,” is his song, but this is simple math. Anyway, I was curious so I asked around.

Here are the responses I got (with my reaction afterwards).

Jacob deGrom says he will opt out and become a free agent.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Agent No. 1: three years, $125 million plus incentives. (Me: Thanks, but no thanks.)

Agent No. 2: three years, $140 million to $145 million. (Me: No way)

Agent No. 3: five years, $225 million. (Me: Good luck.)

Beyond the $30.5 million to go, deGrom obviously is not going to have to accept a club option for the second year, nor is he going to have to defer half the deal for 15 years, all elements of the current deal he signed with the Mets , a deal he’s obviously regretted since.

Word out of the Mets camp is that club owner Steve Cohen and his baseball people will indeed try to re-sign deGrom but aim to do it within reason, which should be the case with 99 percent of desirable free agents anyway. The owner has not asked my opinion but here’s my own limit (aka my offer): Two years at $70 million total plus incentives based on innings pitched that could take him to $100 million.

“DeGrom would never accept two for 70,” a high-ranking Mets person told me.

Well then, I say, go sign with the Rangers or someone else willing to lay out $100 million plus guaranteed for a bona fide maybe.

Sure, I get it, Cohen has a reported $17 billion and only three years left to reach his opening goal of winning a World Series within five. I wouldn’t surrender that goal. I’d just spend the loot elsewhere.

I’m really not sure how anyone gets $17 ultra large myself. But I’ll assume he didn’t get there by employing his heart to make the biggest decisions, and judging by the overwhelming analytics emphasis I’ll assume that’s true.

He’s also someone who aims to please, as he’s already put a record $299 million into the team in hopes of bringing a championship to the city. But there are more effective ways to spend that $40 million or so per year.

Mets owner Steve Cohen
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Pod

No matter how underpaid deGrom thinks he is, and he’s obviously come to that conclusion based on his earlier eagerness to say he’s opting out — even at the very time in spring when news came out he’d be missing at least the first two months of the season with shoulder discomfort — it’s very hard to think he’s been worth the money in his age 33 and age 34 seasons.

He made $33.5 million this year when he threw 64 innings and posted a 3.08 ERA (plus a gutsy six more in his wild-card start). That by the way is 4.3 percent of the innings that comprise a season (1,458). Over the last two seasons he made nearly half a million bucks per inning.

Good work if you can get it.

Jacob deGrom
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

He obviously doesn’t see it that way. From his perspective he may be annoyed his $108 million contract when the enormous deferrals are factored in ($138 million in actual pay) is coincidentally worth exactly one-third of Gerrit Cole’s record $324 million deal. Some of the reasons are obvious: DeGrom started pitching later since he was drafted as a middle infielder out of tiny Stetson University, he was delayed further by Tommy John surgery, and he signed before he became a free agent.

He was also unlucky that one of his former agents became Mets GM, and Brodie Van Wagenen had inside information as to what might get it done. While Van Wagenen recused himself from direct negotiations, in real life the Mets obviously understood what might get it done.

The Mets don’t possess those particulars now. But they do know what he’s produced, and as awesome as he is to watch perform, he hasn’t come even close to making break-the-bank type contributions.


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