A massive domino fell in MLB free agency on Friday night when Jacob deGrom shockingly decided to depart the New York Mets to sign a five-year, $185 million deal with the Texas Rangers. While not totally unexpected, it’s clear that deGrom’s departure has left a gaping hole on the Mets roster that needs to be filled.
It was going to be tough for the Mets to keep all of their free agents this offseason, and while they managed to sign Edwin Diaz to a long-term deal shortly after the end of the season, deGrom became the first major casualty of that hard truth. deGrom simply received an offer that would be too good to pass up, and the Mets ultimately didn’t get a chance to match it.
Losing deGrom, who is arguably the best pitcher on the planet when he’s fully healthy, is devastating for the Mets. But they cannot allow his departure to define their offseason, and the Mets front office needs to get to work to make up for this shocking loss. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three moves New York has to make now that deGrom is officially headed to Texas.
3. Trade for Sean Murphy
There are a lot of teams around the league that need help at the catcher position, and the Mets are one of them. Sean Murphy of the Oakland Athletics is the premium catcher name on the trade market, and it’s looking increasingly likely that he will be dealt. New York should do what they can to ensure that they are the team landing him.
The Mets relied on a platoon of Tomas Nido and James McCann for pretty much the entire 2022 season, and it’s safe to say the results weren’t very good. Nido hit just .239 with three home runs, while McCann hit an even worse .195 with just three home runs himself. New York has the top prospect in the MLB in Francisco Alvarez waiting in the wings, but he could benefit from developing more in Triple-A.
Acquiring Murphy obviously isn’t going to replace deGrom, but the Mets still have a strong lineup, and acquiring Murphy would allow them to fill in their biggest hole offensively. Murphy could hold down the fort until Alvarez is ready, but for the short term, he provides them with a strong option behind the dish who could shore up the Mets biggest weakness in their lineup from last season.
2. Re-sign Chris Bassitt
Moving to the pitching staff, it’s clear that the Mets have work to do. deGrom wasn’t their only starter who was a free agent, as Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have also hit the market. They already kept Carlos Carrasco around by picking up his option, but there’s still tons of work to be done this offseason for the pitching staff.
The biggest move the Mets have to make now involves re-signing Bassitt. Bassitt was the glue for New York’s starting rotation last season (15-9, 3.42 ERA, 167 K, 1.15 WHIP) while deGrom and Max Scherzer dealt with injuries, and his consistency is needed ten times more now that deGrom is gone.
Bassitt will likely have a busy market, but the Mets need to land him now. At worst, he can be the Mets number two starter behind Scherzer, and when you add Carrasco to the mix, that’s not a bad trio to lead a rotation. But without Bassitt holding things together, New York’s weakened rotation may truly fall apart, which is why it is mightily important for him to be re-signed.
1. Make a run for Justin Verlander
The easiest way to move on from deGrom would be to find an upgrade for him. That would usually be quite hard to accomplish, but that upgrade is available on the free agent market in Justin Verlander. Typically, a 40-year old starting pitcher wouldn’t be a worthwhile investment, but Verlander isn’t your typical starter.
Verlander just earned the third Cy Young award of his career in 2022 with the Houston Astros while also guiding them to a championship along the way. There aren’t many pitchers in the league better than deGrom, but Verlander’s numbers from last season (18-4, 1.75 ERA, 185 K, 0.83 WHIP) show that he was far and away the best starter in the league last season.
The Mets have been interested in Verlander, which may be part of the season they were OK with letting deGrom walk. But pairing Verlander up with his old friend in Scherzer atop their rotation is the easiest way for the Mets to move on. And with deGrom now gone, it may be the only way the Mets can stay competitive in a tight National League East division.