New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom revealed on Monday that he will not negotiate a contract extension this season and will trigger his opt-out clause, which would make him a free agent.
Before the Flushing Faithful begins to panic, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner isn’t planning on going anywhere else.
“For me, I don’t want it to be any distraction [during the season],” deGrom said of why he won’t negotiate. “I love being a Met. 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.”
The 33-year-old right-hander is in the third year of a five-year, $137 million deal that features a player option for the 2023 season. Expectations, for now, are that he will re-negotiate a contract that could provide a larger payday for one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball.
Of course, he does have plenty to prove this year to ensure that he remains on such a pedestal. Last year saw deGrom’s season limited to just 15 starts due to a litany of injuries. It was elbow inflammation that forced his season to end early in July, robbing Major League Baseball of what could have been its greatest pitching season ever. Over those 15 starts, deGrom was 7-2 with a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts in just 92.0 innings.
At least in spring training, such health concerns are non-existent.
“I feel really good,” deGrom, who hasn’t felt any discomfort in the area since July, said. “I’ve been throwing prior to coming down here preparing for being told when to show up. I treated it like a normal offseason and feel really good.”
That’s all manager Buck Showalter needed to hear, as he named deGrom the Mets’ Opening Day starter for the fourth time in his career. Only four other Mets pitchers (Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Tom Glavine, Johan Santana) have made four or more Opening Day starts for the club.
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On Monday, deGrom threw 30 pitches off a mound Monday and is expected to face live batters later this week.
From 2018-2021, deGrom has been baseball’s best hurler behind a 1.94 ERA, 205 ERA+, a 0.881 WHIP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 6.50. Considered one of the most undersupported pitchers in all of baseball based on his 32-21 record during that stretch, deGrom is going to get much more help in the rotation this season after the team broke the bank to sign Max Scherzer to a record-setting deal.
“I’ve said it before, I loved competing against him,” deGrom said. “Now to learn from him, the guy is a future Hall of Famer. To be around people like that and push each other and teach each other as much as we can, I think that’s going to be really exciting.”