Jacob deGrom free agency predictions: Mets, Dodgers top list of most likely landing spots

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Over Jacob deGrom’s past 102 starts for the Mets, the 6-4 right-hander has a 2.05 ERA, which pairs nicely with his 2.14 FIP and 25.2 bWAR. 

In 645 1/3 innings, he has more than double the number of strikeouts (876) as he has hits allowed (433), which is truly mind-boggling. When he’s healthy, he throws pitches with triple-digit heat on a regular basis, and it’s watching deGrom pitch when you start to truly understand how even major league hitters can feel feeble at the plate. 

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He hasn’t been able to stay healthy lately, though. That’s the rub. He made just 15 starts in 2021 and 11 in 2022. He’s spent an uncomfortable amount of time on the Injured List. For any other pitcher — especially a 34-year-old pitcher with a compensation pick attached — that would almost certainly crush his free-agent market. 

Not for deGrom, though. Did we mention he had a 2.05 ERA in his past 102 starts? Every time he steps on the mound, the no-hitter watches go into effect. 

Lots of teams would love to see him wearing their uniform next year. Not everyone can afford his price tag — he’ll almost certainly reach $40 million a year — but because he’s 34, he’s not expecting a five-year deal, which brings teams back into the conversation. There’s nothing a front-office type loves more than a short-term free-agent deal. 

So where could he sign? Let’s take a look. 

Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Mets

This one’s pretty obvious. As we’ve said before, it’s not just that the Mets want deGrom back because, well, he’s Jacob Freaking deGrom. They need starting pitching. Not just depth, but actual major league starting pitching options. Right now they have Max Scherzer and a bunch of No. 4-5 types as candidates for the back end of the rotation. Mets fans love deGrom for his brilliance, and almost give him a pass for all the time he’s missed. Will other fanbases be quite as forgiving if their favorite team gives him $40-plus million a year and he throws 78 innings, like he’s averaged the past two seasons? 

Yeah, but … the allure of Dominant deGrom is great, and as we’ll get into, and he’ll have plenty of suitors. The Mets aren’t the only team that will be willing to pay a high price.

Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Dodgers

Same as the Mets, the Dodgers have an outstanding team but needs at the top of the rotation. Don’t underestimate their motivation to add players who can help win in October, and that’s what a healthy deGrom can do. I doubt anyone’s too worried about a couple of poor starts late in this season. Who would really be surprised to see the Dodgers make a big pitch for the big right-hander? If they’re not in the conversation to the end with either deGrom or Justin Verlander, we’d be rather shocked. The short-term, high-AAV type of contract he’ll get is right in the Dodgers’ wheelhouse. 

Yeah, but … maybe he doesn’t want to go out west. Most everything else makes sense.

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Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Rangers

Signing deGrom would help the Rangers make a statement. Last year, if you’ll remember, there was a lot of noise from Arlington about the Rangers possibly being an actual wild-card contender with the signings of Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray. Not sure anyone really believed it, and the season quickly went south. But if they can convince a superstar such as deGrom that they’ll legitimately be contenders for the next couple of seasons? That’s different. Especially if they could convince him to sign quickly, by overpaying and adding an extra year/opt-outs other teams might be willing to include. Because, “Hey, Jacob deGrom believes that we’re legitimate contenders, so you should play for us, too.” is a darn solid way to start a free-agent pitch to other players. 

Yeah, but … does he believe the Rangers are contenders? Yeah, they could overpay him, but deGrom already has a lot of money and every team is going to offer lots of money. It’s hard to see him signing anywhere that he doesn’t feel he has a legitimate shot of competing for World Series titles. 

Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Braves

On one hand, you have reporters in Atlanta saying that the Braves might not make a big splash on the FA market, unless they spend the money to bring shortstop Dansby Swanson back into the fold. On the other hand, you have the parent company, Liberty Media, spinning the Braves off into a separate entity and talking about how the goal is to have a top-five payroll. Something’s gotta give. 

Signing deGrom would not only give Atlanta another ace at the top of its rotation, but it would take an ace away from a fierce division rival. It’s a win-win. And, folks, the Braves absolutely can afford to sign deGrom to a short-term contract, even if they pay Swanson market value to stay in Georgia. 

Yeah, but … look, we’ll all believe the Braves will sign a big-dollar free agent after it happens, not before. 

Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Cardinals

Yeah, this one’s way outside the box. But deGrom is a perfect fit, in more than one way. For starters, he’s the strikeout starting pitcher the otherwise solid rotation sorely lacks. Add him to a mix that includes Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Montgomery and a healthy Steven Matz, and that’s one hell of a group, with other options for depth. And the Cardinals have been quite open about the expectation for payroll to rise, so they have the money to bring in deGrom on a short-term deal. For the fiscally aware Cardinals, adding an impact player who doesn’t impact the long-term budget seems like the ideal scenario.

Yeah, but … there’s a reason this is outside the box. It still doesn’t seem likely. 

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Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Yankees

After all that talk about the Mets potentially stealing Aaron Judge away from the Yankees, how shrewd would it be for the Yankees to do the “stealing” this offseason? At this point, it would do the Yankees good to get back to the days of being the Evil Empire that just gobbled up every good player they wanted. 

Yeah, but … the Yankees have a lot of areas that demand attention, and even though they’d be a better team with deGrom in the rotation (obviously), that’s not high on the priority list. And teams that don’t have deGrom No. 1 or 2 on their priority list probably aren’t going to wind up with him. 

Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Phillies

Remember what we said about the Braves and signing deGrom away from a division rival? Same goes for the Phillies. Imagine getting into a playoff series and staring down the prospect of having to beat Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and deGrom? Yikes. And the short-term contract is appealing, too. Just like every other team. 

Yeah, but … adding an ace starting pitcher isn’t the top priority. Bringing in someone like Trea Turner would address a much bigger need, and do the Phillies have the motivation to add two massive free-agent pieces this offseason? Doubtful. 

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Why Jacob deGrom could sign with the Giants

The Giants have oodles of money available and even more motivation to turn things around after a rather miserable 2022 season that followed the magical 2021 campaign. It’s not unrealistic to think that the Giants could afford to sign both deGrom and Judge, and how great would that be for the fan base? It would be the biggest influx of New York baseball stars to California since the Dodgers and Giants left the Big Apple many decades ago. 

Yeah, but … it’s kinda like the situation in Texas. Does deGrom believe in the Giants as World Series contenders over the next couple of seasons? 

Prediction: Jacob deGrom will re-sign with the Mets

It’s not just that deGrom and the Mets have a long connection, it’s that the Mets very much need starting pitchers if they’re going to compete for a playoff spot in 2023. And not just a playoff spot, but the World Series. Beyond Max Scherzer, the starting pitching cupboard is pretty bare at the moment. The Mets will dole out plenty of money to starting pitchers this offseason, and it seems likely that deGrom gets a healthy portion of that cash. 

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