Good News for the Braves: Rival Ace Finally Leaves the NL East

Braves degrom

For the entire offseason, Braves fans have maintained hopes that free-agent ace Jacob deGrom would stay within the NL East and sign with Atlanta. Sadly, those hopes are now worth as much as your FTX crypto tokens because deGrom inked a deal of at least $185M with the Texas Rangers on Friday night.

Per Jeff Passan, the contract will be worth $37M per year for either 5 or 6 years—meaning deGrom, who turns 35 next June, will be playing at least into his age-39 season. Additionally, it includes a no-trade clause, so deGrom cannot be traded to any other team unless he explicitly approves the deal. Sometimes players sign contracts that let them list 5 or 10 teams they cannot be traded to, but deGrom’s deal allows him to veto possible trades to all 29 other organizations.

Is $37,000,000 too much to spend on a pitcher in his mid-30s? In my opinion, for a guy this good, the answer is “no.” In 2021, he started 15 games, finishing the season with a 1.08 ERA and a 13.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While those numbers are jaw-dropping, his WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) was even more impressive. For a starting pitcher, a 1.200 WHIP is considered very good, and anything near 1.000 or less is elite. In 2021, deGrom put up a superhuman WHIP of 0.554, essentially outperforming the “elite” threshold by a factor of two.

The big concern, however, would be deGrom’s injuries and whether or not they’ll continue to gouge large chunks out of his seasons as he ages. He started only 26 games over the last two seasons, not even pitching in the 2022 season until August and finishing the year with only 11 starts. However, we just saw Justin Verlander put up a Cy Young-winning, 1.75-ERA season at age 39; it’s not too crazy to think deGrom could be pitching at an elite level for the next 4-5 years as well. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be well worth that deal, but the Braves were never going to give him that kind of money.

Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

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