Well, folks — the inevitable has happened. Jacob deGrom has opted out of his contract and is officially a free agent. We knew this day was coming — the ace told us back in March this was his plan — but it still feels weird, doesn’t it?
What comes next for the right-hander and a potential reunion with the Mets is anyone’s guess. Outside of deGrom saying he likes playing for the Mets and being in New York, we’ve seen other players (Zack Wheeler and Mark Canha) say the same thing.
But stuff changes once a player hits the open market. This is another reason why the Mets coming to a quick agreement with Edwin Diaz over the weekend is even more important. New York locked in its dominant closer for the long haul, and for a bullpen that didn’t have many definites for 2023, the Mets now have an anchor.
Diaz was just one of several important free agents who played for the Mets in 2022. Once news of this agreement hit the interwebs, you could see #MetsTwitter going in two directions. The more popular direction was to focus on re-signing Brandon Nimmo, the Mets’ other rumored offseason priority. A smaller faction was saying deGrom should be next to get paid.
My thought is…why not both?
Free agency has officially opened and teams can express interest in players who didn’t finish the year on their roster. Now that deGrom is available, his agent is likely fielding calls from several teams interested in signing him away from Queens. But, per league rules, negotiating contracts and coming to any agreements aren’t allowed until Thursday at 5 pm ET.
So, the Mets still have an exclusive negotiating window with Nimmo, deGrom, and the rest of their free agents. We saw how that benefited New York in its negotiations with Diaz. Even though Nimmo is open to a return, he’s a Scott Boras client now and is the most complete center fielder on the open market. Do you really think he’ll settle for a deal with New York before getting a chance to test the waters?
Boras is supposed to listen to what his client wants, but that probably won’t happen. Plus, rumors are already spreading that the Mets could make a run for Trea Turner. Doing so would give New York options on both offense and defense. It’d also lessen the need for Nimmo to return.
Earlier in the offseason, general manager Billy Eppler mentioned there’s been a constant line of communication between the team and deGrom. Both sides know how each other feels. Now, we’re going to get to see what that actually means. Will they focus on Nimmo and let deGrom test free agency? Will they try to nab both before the exclusive negotiating window closes? Or, will the right-hander agree to return to Citi Field before he fields serious offers from other teams?
We’ll see soon enough. Based on what happened with Diaz, though, we know the Mets are more than willing to strike fast if they decide to do so.