Don’t hold it against Jacob deGrom for opting out

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Jacob deGrom opting out of his contract is the only thing that makes sense for him. The star New York Mets pitcher is at a point in his career where he can either choose to accept the $32.5 million for 2023 and then put all of the power into the franchise for 2024. Even if the Mets did choose to pick up the $32.5 million team option for him in 2024, deGrom is going to come away losing a lot of money.

Despite missing half of 2021 and then doing the same in 2022, deGrom’s free agent market should net him an AAV higher than what his current contract would pay him. Players like Max Scherzer have set a new standard for short-term, high AAV deals. deGrom should be getting one this offseason, too.

What has made this such a big story over the last few months is how it was handled. deGrom plans to chop down the cherry tree. He wasn’t going to lie about it either. His declaration that he would opt out is why some feel some resentment toward the longtime Mets pitcher.

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom might wish he handled his opt out better

The only regret deGrom may have is being a little too honest about his future with the Mets. The better answer to the opt out question would have been that he is focused on the upcoming season—not what lies ahead. deGrom is pretty low-key and not so much a master wordsmith. He has never given the fans anything but honest. In this case, it was a little too much for some.

Moving forward with his contract, even if he ended up with the full $65 million over the next two years, doesn’t come close to what he will get in the free agent market this offseason. His next contract should at least double. It’s not so much about betting on himself either. It’s about what he would earn two years from now as a free agent as opposed to right now.

Security is one thing deGrom hasn’t had all that much of as a major leaguer. The later start to his big league career already put him behind many others. He was able to get an extension ahead of his free agency which at least secured him a fat deal at least once in his career.

Financials in baseball continue to change each year. Teams will pay veterans in their mid-30s or later a lot of money short-term. deGrom is in that perfect zone where a $35-40 million a year salary is necessary to keep him around. Opting into his deal puts him at a huge risk. He saw how former teammate Matt Harvey was bitten by the injury bug before he got his big contract. The same could be about to happen to Noah Syndergaard whose best years are in the far-too-distant past.

A two-time Cy Young Award winner who continues to excel when on the field is an enticing piece any team in win-now mode will want to pay. The Mets are one of those ball clubs and we should expect them to negotiate with deGrom even if the offer isn’t much more than they already signed him to.

deGrom doesn’t hate New York or the fans at Citi Field. He just wants the best salary he can get. Opting out is the wisest choice he can make. Being a little too honest, a little too early about it is the one thing he should have done differently.

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