Jacob deGrom To Red Sox? Why Boston Should Entertain Ace

deGrom has made one career start at Fenway Park

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December 1, 2022

Will the Red Sox make waves this offseason? Boston has financial flexibility and a strong desire to bounce back from a disappointing 2022. As such, we’ll examine whether several notable free agents make sense (or don’t make sense) as the club looks to retool for 2023 and beyond.

After coming up short during their 2022 campaign, the Boston Red Sox have found themselves in a tricky situation in regard to their starting rotation and free agent starting pitcher Jacob deGrom could serve as a major stepping stone for 2023.

Ending the regular season dead last in the American League East didn’t just close the door on the season, but possibly on the Boston tenures for a few notables starters who took the mound for the Red Sox in 2022.

Since being drafted by the Mets in 2010, deGrom has spent the entirety of his nine-year Major League Baseball career with the organization and reached quite a few milestones in the process. The right-hander was named the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year, made four All-Star appearances and — most notably — notched back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

In March 2019, deGrom initially signed a five-year extension with the Mets worth $137.5 million. Yet, with two years and $63 million left on the table, deGrom opted to put his stock value to the test in free agency.

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Veteran starters Michael Wacha, Rich Hill and Nathan Eovaldi all entered the free agency market, however, played key roles in manager Alex Cora’s rotation. Each of the three was responsible for delivering a major chunk of innings, finishing their respective campaigns by supplying the Red Sox with the second, third and fourth-most innings pitched (Wacha 127 1/3, Hill 124 1/3 and Eovaldi 109 1/3).

With that being said, let’s examine the potential Red Sox rotation target:

Info
Position: Starting pitcher
Age: 29 (June 19, 1988)
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 180 pounds
Throws: Right
Bats: Left

2022 stats (with New York Mets)
11 appearances (all starts), 64 innings
5-4 record, 3.08 ERA, 102 strikeouts
0.75 WHIP, 2.13 FIP, 126 ERA+
14.27 K/9, 1.12 BB/9, 12.75 K/BB

Career stats (nine seasons)
209 appearances (209 starts), 1,326 innings
82-57 record, 2.52 ERA, 1,607 strikeouts
0.998 WHIP, 2.62 FIP, 155 ERA+
10.91 K/9, 2.06 BB/9, 5.03 K/BB

Why deGrom makes sense for Red Sox
The void that needs to be filled cannot be dismissed.

With Wacha as a free agent, despite having vocalized his interest in returning to Boston next season, begs the question of potential replacement options. Aside from Wacha’s inning total, 2022 served as a comeback year for the right-hander which strands a level of production that Boston will need in order to avoid a repeat of last season.

Like Wacha was last season for the Red Sox, deGrom has proven to be an established ace in a big league rotation. Currently, there are more question marks than checked boxes in Boston’s rotation. Whether it’d be the uncertainty behind Chris Sale’s health or how the team will approach using Garrett Whitlock, adding an arm like deGrom would provide a major sigh of relief.

Yes, last season was a minor hiccup for a relative no-brainer Cy Young-caliber arm. In 2022, deGrom notched his career-low in innings pitched and starts made.

Nevertheless, unlike several current Red Sox starters, deGrom has the upside of the October experience in his resume. Through five postseason appearances — including one World Series start — deGrom has gone 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA, striking out 37 hitters in 31 innings pitched. That’s more wins and a lower ERA in the playoffs than any starting pitchers currently listed on the Red Sox roster.

Even former Red Sox and current Los Angeles Dodgers star outfielder Mookie Betts would approve.

“He’s pretty much the best, maybe the best to ever pitch,” Betts said, per SNY Mets video on Aug. 31 at Citi Field.

Why deGrom doesn’t make sense for Red Sox
Like Carlos Rodón — another top-tier starting arm on the market who?s expected to garner some noteworthy interest — deGrom has battled his fair share of injuries, which have impacted him consistently in recent years.

As mentioned previously, last season was a minor hiccup for what we’ve known deGrom to be. Yet, in the last three seasons pitched, it’s been a slight downward trend. Since 2020, deGrom has failed to record over 15 starts with the Mets after a dominant three-year run from 2017 to 2019 in which he hit the 30-plus start mark and pitched over 200 innings in each season.

Within that same struggling run within the past three seasons, deGrom has endured a plethora of injuries, including two with his forearm and as many with his right shoulder. At 34 years old and depending on his contract term preference, deGrom could be in line for the final major payday of his career.

With the Red Sox already committed heavily financially to Sale, the organization could very likely take deGrom’s injury history into consideration when considering where to allocate its funds during the offseason.

Verdict: deGrom checks out several much-need boxes for the Red Sox.

Prediction: deGrom returns to the Mets.

Thumbnail photo via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images
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