Rangers sign deGrom to 5-year deal

December 3rd, 2022

The Rangers pulled off a stunner ahead of next week's Winter Meetings, signing ace right-hander Jacob deGrom to a five-year free-agent contract on Friday night. The deal will pay deGrom $185 million, a source told MLB.com; the club has not confirmed the value of the contract.

deGrom, 34, is one of the most decorated pitchers of his generation, a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner as a Met who bloomed late but continued to improve into his early 30s.

The modern version of deGrom was born in 2018, when he increased his average fastball velocity to a career-high 96 mph then used his augmented skill set to produce a 1.70 ERA in 32 starts en route to his first Cy Young Award. A year later, amidst another velocity bump, deGrom produced a 2.43 ERA to win another Cy.

For a while, the success was sustainable; from 2018-21, deGrom posted a 1.94 ERA with an average of 12 strikeouts per nine innings, in what was perhaps the most dominant multi-year performance by any pitcher of this generation. He routinely hit triple digits on the radar gun over that stretch, topping out at 102 mph.

When asked whether he had just signed the best pitcher in baseball, general manager Chris Young simply replied: “Yes.”

“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” Young said in a press release. “Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout Major League pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this offseason is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best.

“I also want to recognize our ownership group, led by Ray Davis, for continuing to provide the resources to build a winning culture here in Arlington. On behalf of the entire organization, I welcome Jacob, his wife, Stacey, and the entire deGrom family to the Rangers.”

Despite his impressive resume, deGrom does not join the Rangers without some question marks regarding his durability. He began dealing with minor back and arm troubles in 2020, then a bout of elbow inflammation knocked him out for the entire second half of the 2021 season. The following spring, deGrom suffered a stress reaction in his right scapula, which sidelined him until the early days of August. The Mets eventually eased him back into a normal workload, but deGrom produced a 6.00 ERA over his final four regular-season starts in '22.

Now entering his age-35 season, he has not pitched a full Major League season since 2019.

“Certainly we acknowledge that there's been, in the last couple of years, some injuries,” Young said. “But we also feel comfortable with the way Jacob finished the season, the way the ball was coming out of his arm right at the end of the season. We feel like we have a great medical team. We have high confidence in their ability to keep our players on the field.

“We also acknowledged that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that. And one we feel like it's worth taking with a player of his caliber.”

A DeLand, Fla., native, deGrom was a college shortstop at Stetson University, where he once homered off future All-Star pitcher Chris Sale. He converted to pitching late in his collegiate career, eventually doing enough to become the Mets’ ninth-round Draft pick in 2010.

As a prospect, deGrom struggled through injuries -- including Tommy John surgery -- before debuting in 2014. The right-hander went on to win NL Rookie of the Year honors and make his first All-Star team the following summer, joining Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz in a dynamic young rotation that led the Mets as far as the 2015 pennant.

deGrom still makes his offseason home in DeLand, where he plays regular games of catch in the offseason with his father, Tony.

Now, deGrom figures to lead a rotation that currently includes Jon Gray, Martín Pérez and Jake Odorizzi, in addition to one of Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto and Cole Ragans. Texas also has a top farm system, led by MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects Jack Leiter (No. 45 overall, Rangers No. 2) and Owen White (No. 59, No. 4) and Rangers’ Top 30 Prospects Brock Porter (No. 6) and Kumar Rocker (No. 8) on the pitching side. 

“I think we’re excited about the rotation [as it stands currently],” Young said. “I think what we have at the top of the rotation -- Jacob deGrom, Jon Gray, Martín Pérez, Jake Odorizzi, falling behind, and then, you know, options in terms of some of our young guys. …  We have really solid pitching in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. I think that we're going to continue to look to explore ways to improve. We're going to continue to be aggressive and diligent to make sure we put the best team out on the field for the 2023 season and beyond.”