If deGrom Does Leave, What is Plan B?


Aaron Judge and a possible Yankees Plan B was detailed on these pages earlier this week from veteran colleague Howie Karpin. Now the other suspense filled plot and possible Plan B for the Mets.

Jacob deGrom? Suspense for the Mets and their fan base now that he has opted out of his contact. So where does the two-time Cy Young Award winner go from here? He is the coveted free agent pitcher on the market.

And the makeup of this Mets pitching rotation will revolve around the eventual outcome of 34-year old Jacob deGrom and his potential landing spot whether it be with the Mets, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, or the checkbook of the San Francisco Giants.

These are teams in the sweepstakes. All have the resources to exceed the $32.5 million guaranteed contract that deGrom opted to leave. As reported elsewhere, the Giants are throwing their punches and are in hot pursuit to land deGrom. I have also heard this from reliable sources coming out of the GM meetings this week.

Regardless, the value of Jacob deGrom is the obvious pitcher that can make a difference in a pitching rotation, but long term could be a risk. He is not getting younger and has a history of that recurring injury that is always an eye for caution.

I think there’s a good deal of interest there on his part, so that was articulated a number of times through the season and reiterated in our most recent conversation,” commented GM Billy Eppler this week.

And that is a good sign because they are in contact. Let’s be realistic here, because if the Mets lose deGrom or the Yankees see Judge in another uniform, that becomes a dark eye to fan bases of both teams.

Rookie of the year, multiple Cy Young awards and Mets franchise pitching leader in ERA (2.52), WHIP (0.99), and strikeouts per innings and always in the talk with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, so there would be a definite void in the Mets rotation if deGrom takes a lucrative offer.

Though is this the same pitcher that has been over powering in recent seasons. Remember, deGrom missed an entire calendar year before returning in early August. 

So the Mets have an interest. They hope for his return or they go to Plan B for a rotation that for the moment includes Max Scherzer and the $14 million club option for Carlos Carrasco (3.97 ERA, 29 starts, 152 innings.)

There is already a need for another frontline starter, so a void of deGrom will have the Mets shopping in free agency or on the trade market. The confidence of having lefty David Peterson to follow can only go so far. There is no immediate depth ready down on the farm.

Righthander Matt Allen has not pitched in a game since 2019. Tyler Megill, another option and prior to a season ending injury, proved his value as deGrom worked his way back into the rotation.

And immediately that overpowering one-two-punch, minus deGrom and with Scherzer does not look as impressive. The Mets as sources tell me are looking at alternatives and hoping for a quick resolution, but in this era of free agency these things tend to go a little slower than a deGrom fastball will.

And if Chris Bassitt or Taijuan Walker are out of the mix, that’s two other holes the Mets have to fill. Let’s face it, a possible and eventual loss of deGrom on the mound at Citi Field does lead to more questions. The void must be filled with a reliable and durable number one or two on the market for the Mets to contend in their division with the Braves and NL Champion Phillies.

Assuming there is no deGrom, unless the Mets want to put emphasis on another potent bat in the lineup, the luxury tax and salary structure of owner Steve Cohen may or may not come into play. Which brings to mind Carlos Rodon, and his 2.88 ERA. The left-hander is coming off a 14-8 campaign with the Giants.

All of this is contingent of course, but is five-years in excess of $250 million worth the price for  deGrom? Considering his age and health history, the Mets could be taking a risk at the hands of retaining their best pitcher over the last six years who has sustained a stress fracture to the scapula and issues with the elbow.

I am not the GM here, but there are options and it could be worth the investment if Eppler vested in another left hander, 32-year old Martin Perez, an All Star free agent coming off a season with the Rangers. His cutter and changeup gets swings and misses and gets the ground ball outs and he finished the 2022 season with a 2.89 ERA.

Two possible moves that could boost a Mets rotation, with or without deGrom, and at a cost that won’t hurt their salary structure that is a part of everyday baseball business.

Mets fans are split on this. Some say let deGrom walk. Others don’t want to see their best franchise pitcher since Seaver and Gooden pitching in a rival city and wearing a different uniform.

But there are options. An interesting and busy next few weeks for the Mets front office prior to the all important Winter Meetings in San Diego that commence December 4th. And with a shorter offseason, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 92 days, there should be a quick resolution.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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