ARLINGTON -- Late last week, Jacob deGrom flew to Texas for a physical after the quick process that led to him signing a five-year, $185 million deal with the Rangers. Almost immediately after passing the physical, he flew back to his home in Florida to go to Walt Disney World with his family.
“They do the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas [Party], and they were sold out for the rest of the year, but we got in Friday night, so we had to go,” deGrom explained with a chuckle. “I thought I was going to miss it, and [my son] Jackson always wants me to ride the rides with him, so we did a nice job of getting in here and out.”
The Rangers’ new ace noted that his favorite rides at Walt Disney World are Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, both of which he rode with his son before gearing up for an entirely new ride in Texas after spending his career thus far with the New York Mets.
deGrom is the Rangers’ latest big-name signing following their long-term deals given to Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Jon Gray last offseason. When deGrom was introduced at Globe Life Field on Thursday afternoon, the right-hander emphasized that the club’s commitment to spending to win for a long time was a huge factor in his decision-making.
Over the last three years, Rangers general manager Chris Young has committed to building a club that can claim the World Series, and majority owner Ray Davis has provided him with the budget to do so.
“That's the goal: winning a World Series,” deGrom said. “These guys all had that same vision. It lined up with what I wanted to do. They showed a ton of interest right from the start, and the feeling was mutual. I’m just very happy to be here. … They're signing great guys, great players, and it's going to be an exciting team.”
Young has succeeded especially in selling a vision to free agents, whether that was to Seager and Semien last December, to deGrom this offseason or even to newly hired manager Bruce Bochy, who Young pried out of retirement to lead the Rangers into contention.
The signings of Semien and Seager were just the start of the Rangers building a contender in Arlington. deGrom is the newest addition to a group that hopefully lays the groundwork for many years of title runs.
“It was the vision of building something special and winning for a long time,” deGrom said. “I want to play this game for a long time and want to win. Hearing that from [Young] and Bochy and ultimately getting to meet Ray [Davis] at the end, everybody having that same vision, everything lined up. This is where I wanted to be.”
For Bochy, a guy like deGrom gives the Rangers a much better chance of matching up with their American League West rivals and reigning World Series champions, the Houston Astros.
“When you talk about a rotation, you need somebody every couple of days to lead the way, somebody who has experience there, and Jacob certainly has that,” Bochy said. “Getting Jacob here improves this staff already. So I feel very good. Don't tell me we can't win.”
When healthy, Young called deGrom one of the greatest pitchers of this generation. And it’s hard to argue with him considering the accolades. As a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, a four-time All-Star, the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, the ERA title winner in ‘18 (1.70) and the owner of a career ERA+ of 155, he immediately improves any rotation he joins.
From 2018-21, deGrom dominated, posting a 1.94 ERA with an average of 12 strikeouts per nine innings. He was nearly unstoppable, but despite the resume, a number of injury concerns piled up in recent years. Right forearm tightness knocked deGrom out of the rotation for the second half of ‘21, and in his final season with the Mets, he suffered a stress reaction on his right scapula during Spring Training that sidelined him until August.
Young acknowledged the risk associated with signing deGrom, who will turn 35 during the 2023 season. But the risk was more than worth it with a pitcher of his caliber.
“The goal is to go out there and take the ball every fifth day for the Texas Rangers and put us in the best position I can to win those games,” deGrom said. “The goal is to go out there and make 30-plus starts every year. Once I came back [in 2022], I felt great. Again, the goal is to make 30-plus starts for the next five-plus years here. I truly believe I will be able to do that.”