How can someone be Tom Seaver and Jon Matlack at the same time?
Jacob deGrom has been, undoubtedly, one of the best pitchers in baseball since his debut in 2014, he's won a Rookie of the Year and two Cy Youngs, got the Mets to a World Series in his sophomore year and was the centerpiece of countless rotations. The one thing he hasn't been the last few years is healthy. You throw as hard as Jacob deGrom does, you're gonna miss some time.
The last three seasons, deGrom has thrown incomplete campaigns. The first two of those, A.) there was a shortened season anyway, and B.) both of them featured ERAs lower than 3, with deGrom having a 1.08 ERA in 2021 before getting injured. deGrom also had a lower ERA in the back half of the 2022 season, but many people noticed a sudden spike in people getting the better of him, and in those 11 starts he went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA. More human. More touchable.
In the year directly before a free agency, Jacob deGrom was potentially getting to the peak of his success, and possibly heading towards a career downslope. On one hand, someone would inevitably be giving him money, and lots of it. On the other hand, would they be getting the better end of the deal in terms of pitching quality?
And that's why I've been so vexed by the Texas Rangers signing deGrom for 5 more years. I am vexed by a long-term deal for someone who's been so injury prone, and is heading into his mid-30s. I am vexed by the confidence that deGrom will deliver the way he has in New York, especially after that spike in earned runs, and especially home runs. And I am most vexed by the Texas Rangers deciding once again to put the cart before the horse and sign a large contract and get results that way.
The Rangers, much like the Diamondbacks of the mid-2010s and the Angels of the early-2010s, are trying this because they can, but don't realize that in order to build a proper competitor, they need to develop one, and not just rely on a big contract to make them a thing. It didn't work with Corey Seager or Marcus Semien, and while this is still a 3rd or 4th place team, adding deGrom will only do so much. Remember, the Mets had deGrom during their 'no run support' years. This may be another case of that, and I can't imagine deGrom just hoping somebody like Sam Huff or Jonah Heim or Ezequiel Duran will save the day for them.
And plus, again, deGrom is still technically a liability because at any point he could get injured again. Hopefully the big stuff with his throwing arm is done, but you also have him going into his mid-30s, and various other stuff could pop up there. I am not sure if they're gonna get 200 innings from deGrom in 2023. They very well could, and they could be 200 stellar innings, but...are we okay with a talent like deGrom throwing fire for 200 innings? Is that a sustainable solution anymore? Do we just need to be alright with the fact that if he does that, he'll be out for a year afterwards?
There is a possibility that this deal works and deGrom becomes a Rangers legend, but there's so many facets of this that don't add up for me, and it could be yet another regrettable spending spree from this organization. Yes, people will come, yes games will be exciting, but...I dunno if this is the way back to the playoffs, and that's if he does stay healthy for the majority of this.
Even still, the big piece is off the board. Let the real fun begin.
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