In what comes as no surprise considering he’s broadcast his desire to do so for the last eight months, New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom has opted out of the final two years of his contract and is officially a free agent, as noted by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association on Monday.
Taijuan Walker also joined deGrom as Mets pitchers to opt out of their deals on Monday.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner was owed $30.5 million in 2023 before the Mets would have had a team option for $32.5 million the following season.
But given deGrom’s standing as one of the most dominant pitchers of this generation when healthy, recent contracts doled out around the league — and more specifically in Queens with a $43 million AAV deal for Max Scherzer — quickly made the contract he signed back in 2019 a severe underpay.
Of course, his health remains an enormous question mark that could eventually take some money off the top of his deal.
Had he not missed the first four months of the season due to injury — and half the season in 2021 — deGrom realistically could have been the first $50 million AAV player in baseball history.
He still very well could be near that number if his new contract is incentive-laden that protects the team should injury issues crop up again.
As he officially became a free agent on Monday, the Mets have three days of exclusive negotiating rights with the 34-year-old before he could potentially sign with another team beginning on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.
Despite there being uncertainty if he’ll come back to Queens, deGrom has expressed a desire to stay in the Big Apple.
“I love being a Met,” he said back in March. “I think it’d be really cool to be one for my entire career but the plan is to exercise that option and be in constant contact with the Mets and Steve Cohen.”
While he grew more and more silent on the matter down the stretch of a season that saw the Mets win 101 games and ultimately lose in the Wild Card Series to the San Diego Padres, there continue to be further inklings that he’s open to the idea of remaining with the team that drafted him in 2010.
“Jake told me he wants to come back, too, and he really likes it here, too,” outfielder Mark Canha told Mike Puma of the New York Post.. “I think Jake and Max [Scherzer] and[Chris] Bassitt have a really good friendship they have developed over this year and good professional relationship, too.”