The New York Mets have a plethora of free agents this winter, the biggest being the ace of the pitching staff, Jacob deGrom. The righty has been very vocal over the last year or so about how he’s going to use his opt-out clause, even though he hasn’t pitched more than half a season in the last two years (three if you include the pandemic-shortened season 2020).
Last offseason, I wrote about how Jomboy, Talkin’ Jake, and Trevor Plouffe believed Jacob deGrom would command $50 million if he opts out, which was an accurate estimate then and still is now. The clips from Talkin’ Baseball are available in the story linked above.
It’s an insane amount of money to pay someone with a precarious injury history, who will turn 35 early next season, and who had home run issues this year (his HR/9 doubled from last year!). So how can the Mets pull this off?
The New York Mets have to base a Jacob deGrom contract on performance bonuses for starts made.
deGrom’s last season with a full workload was in 2019, when he made 32 starts, pitched 204 innings, and won his second Cy Young. In 2020, he made 12 starts and pitched 68 innings, in 2021 he made 15 starts and pitched 92 innings, and this year he made 11 starts and pitched 64 innings in the regular season.
Here’s what I propose: give him a base salary of $20 million, and $5 million bonuses after the 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 27th, and 30th starts. Naturally, there would be additional bonuses for Cy Youngs and other awards.
So here’s how that would look:
- Less than 15 starts: $20 million
- 15 starts: $25 million
- 18 starts: $30 million
- 21 starts: $35 million
- 24 starts: $40 million
- 27 starts: $45 million
- 30 starts: $50 million
This is beneficial for a couple of reasons. One, if he gets hurt again, the Mets aren’t on the hook for massive amounts of money and luxury tax hits. Two, it motivates Jake to do whatever he has to do to stay healthy.
In the article linked in the second paragraph, I predicted a four-year deal worth around $210 million. While this would look different, it would ultimately end up in the same place. Following my proposal, the deal would be four years for $80 million guaranteed, but the bonuses would bring it up to $200 million if all starts are made and all bonuses are collected. If he were to win another Cy Young, MVP, or a postseason series, that could bring it to my original guess of $210 million.
It'll be interesting to see how this goes down. As the best pitcher in baseball, he will have many suitors, so it would behoove the Mets to get deGrom to put pen on paper sooner than later.