According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets believe they will be able to retain Jacob deGrom as long as he doesn’t get a significantly bigger offer from another team. The consensus seems to be a three-year deal is about the longest any front office would be willing to stretch, but there’s a whole lot of room to negotiate when you start talking AAV, options, and incentives.
It’s not at all inconceivable that deGrom, who is the best pitcher on the planet when he’s healthy, could surpass the record $43.3 million Max Scherzer got from the Mets last season. Would $135 million over three years be enough to get it done, or will some team push to $100 million over two with an option for a third year at $40 million? Maybe it’s got $45 million in guaranteed base salary with a $10 million buyout on the option.
The shorter the deal, the more teams are going to be willing to jump into the deGrom sweepstakes, which could mean the Cubs are legit contenders for his services. Puma listed them as such, along with the Rangers, Dodgers, and Yankees.
Another big factor for deGrom when it comes to choosing his next team is location, as the pitcher has reportedly told those close to him that he plans to move full-time to his new city. He and his family currently live in DeLand, FL, about 35 miles north of Orlando, and it had initially been thought that he’d give preference to a team that did spring training in the Grapefruit League. That would benefit the Mets and Yankees if true.
As a fan of the outdoors, deGrom could also prioritize an area that will allow him to live away from the city in a more pastoral or wooded environment. That would probably rule out LA, but Texas gets more helium. New York has some of that land once you get out of the urban sprawl, and Chicago has some nearby options to spread out with a little acreage.
Unlikely though it might be, the Cubs do have a shot at landing deGrom if they really want to. The same is true for Justin Verlander, who will be seeking similar money in his next deal. But if that’s what Jed Hoyer and Co. want to do, it’ll take more than a big check and knowledge of local real estate to get a deal done. They’ll have to convince one of those aces that they’re serious about winning in short order.
That means being willing to commit a lot more than $45 million or whatever the deal ends up being. As great as getting an ace pitcher would be, the Cubs also need to add a big bat, another catcher, a center fielder, and more bullpen arms. It’s a stretch, but it’s not impossible.