Free agent Jacob deGrom and the Texas Rangers agreed to terms on a five-year, $185 million contract on Friday.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner left the New York Mets after nine seasons, the last two of which were cut short by injury.
After making his debut in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 appearances. He helped the Mets make the playoffs and then opted out of his contract as a free agent for the first time, earning a $30.5 million salary through 2023.
Texas announced the signing of the 34-year-old deGrom on Friday night after passing his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club has not released those details.
“We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said in a statement. “Jacob has been a top pitcher in the major leagues for several seasons and he provides a dominant player at the top of our rotation. Our focus this offseason is to strengthen our starting lineup and we are adding one of the best.”
Texas went 68-94 last season and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco, as its new coach. The Rangers’ six-game losing streak is their worst since moving from Washington in 1972.
The Rangers spent big in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).
This latest dramatic move comes just ahead of baseball’s winter meetings, which begin early next week in San Diego. The Rangers said deGrom will be introduced at a press conference at Globe Life Field next week after the winter meetings.
When healthy, deGrom is the most dominant pitcher in baseball. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among players with at least 200 starts.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win this year against San Diego that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the following night.
A four-time All-Star and 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick of the Mets out of Stetson University in 2010 and played shortstop before moving to the bullpen. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his professional career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.
But he blossomed as soon as he arrived. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and the 2016 playoffs before winning back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.
But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He posted a career-low 1.08 ERA in 92 innings in 2021, but hasn’t pitched since July 7 of that year due to arm problems.
DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons.
New York won 101 regular-season games last season, the second-most in franchise history, but was caught by defending NL East champion Atlanta and settled for the wild card.
After opting out of his 2023 option and ending his four-year, $107 million contract with the Mets, deGrom declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer in November, so New York will receive draft compensation for losing him.
Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone are the latest in a line of pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another and become fan favorites.
With several holes in their starting lineup, the Mets are interested in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon with 38-year-old Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation. Now, without deGrom, signing either of those two may become more of a concern.