PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jacob deGrom's latest injury has not altered his plan to opt out of his contract following the season.
Making his first public comments since learning that he had suffered a stress reaction in the scapula of his pitching shoulder, deGrom said that he still intends to forego the final two years and $68 million on his deal. His goal is to negotiate a new, longer-term contract with the Mets after the season, although opting out opens the possibility that he could end his career elsewhere.
Eclipsing $68 million on the open market isn’t likely to be difficult for deGrom if he’s able to give the Mets four full, healthy months of service upon returning from the injured list. But that is no given. deGrom said Sunday morning that he had not yet spoken to team trainers or officials about a timeline for his return, beyond the initial estimate of four weeks without throwing.
A standard progression would require deGrom to rehab for a month following a clean MRI four weeks from now, then return to the team in late May or early June.
“Once this gets behind me, I should be good to go,” deGrom said. “Body-wise, I felt great, and then this popped up. Once we get this behind us, I’ll be good to go.”
When deGrom initially felt discomfort in his throwing shoulder during a game of catch last week, he assumed it was simply normal soreness. Only after he reported the issue to trainers did he sense something more serious could be at play.
“When I was told that, I was really caught off guard and really frustrated,” deGrom said. “But I guess I’m going to try to look at it from a positive standpoint that structurally, everything looks fine. Once the bone heals, then we’ll be ready to go, build up from there, and hopefully stay healthy for the rest of the year.
“I felt like I put myself in a good position strength-wise this offseason. I think what’s the most frustrating part is how good I felt throwing this spring, and then for this to pop up out of nowhere.”
Prior to his injury, deGrom had allowed just one run and struck out 10 in five innings this spring. When healthy in general over the past two years, deGrom has been routinely excellent, going 11-4 with a 1.63 ERA. But durability has been elusive for deGrom as he’s entered his mid-30s. In addition to his scapular injury, deGrom missed the entire second half of last season due to right elbow inflammation. Elbow, shoulder, lat and back issues have all affected him since the start of 2020.
If and when the Mets negotiate a new contract with deGrom, they will have to weigh his obvious skillset with the threat of injuries continuing to derail his career. Until then, they’ll have as much vested interest as he does in ensuring that their ace can return without issue.
“Honestly, I was expecting to hear, ‘Take a couple days off and you’ll be ready to go,’” deGrom said. “Talking to the doctors about it, and it being bone, they said … once it heals, it’s healed, and then you’ll be ready to go. Asking them how my shoulder looked overall, they said it looks the same as previous MRIs. That part looks good. I guess that’s the only plus that came out of this.”