The clock is already ticking for Mets general manager Billy Eppler just four days into free agency as the looming question remains to be the future of Jacob deGrom.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner opted out of the final two years of his contract on Monday, making him a free agent, and becoming the headlining piece for a pitching rotation in the throes of uncertainty. Within 24 hours, the Mets saw deGrom, Taijuan Walker, and Chris Bassitt opt out of their deals to hit the open market.
They could sign with new teams beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. ET and for the 34-year-old right-hander, teams like the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves could be looming.
Yet Eppler is maintaining an air of positivity regarding deGrom’s speculative chances of returning to Queens.
“I think there’s a good deal of interest there on his part,” he told reporters on Tuesday at the annual GM meetings in Las Vegas (h/t SNY). “That was articulated a number of times through the season and reiterated in our most recent conversation.”
While deGrom’s silence on the matter increased as the 2022 season progressed, he did express initial sentiments that he would like to remain a Met.
“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.”
His teammate, Mark Canha, also told Mike Puma of the New York Post last week that deGrom “wants to come back” and “he really likes it here.”
Of course, it’s going to come down to the dollars and cents of it all — and deGrom is expected to receive a handsome payday in the vicinity of his teammate Max Scherzer, who set a record with a three-year, $130 million deal that gives him $43.3 million per year.
Whether it’s above or below that obviously remains to be seen, but teams willing to go a bit higher or even throw in an extra year of term could come away with one of this generation’s very best hurlers.
We want to stay in communication with each other and to be very transparent with each other,” Eppler said. “They’ll have a sense of what we’re doing and hopefully, we’ll have a sense of what they’re doing.”