The New York Mets couldn’t keep Jacob deGrom, but they’re hanging on to Brandon Nimmo. According to ESPN, the Mets and their free-agent center fielder are in agreement on an eight-year, $162 million contract.
The 2011 first-round pick, who turns 30 in March, played in a career-high 151 games last season with an .800 OPS (.274/.367/.433).
Jacob deGrom feeling strong, confident in Texas debut
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom sees the vision of what the Texas Rangers want to do, not their streak of six consecutive losing seasons and being more than a decade removed from their only World Series appearances.
“The Rangers did a great job with constant communication and making me feel like they really wanted me here,” deGrom said Thursday during his introduction in Texas. “The vision was the same, build something great, and win year in and year out.”
deGrom is the latest big-money add — $185 million, five-year deal — for the Rangers as they try to turn things around. They nabbed deGrom last Friday before baseball’s winter meetings starting. After completing his physical and the contract in Texas, he was even able to make it for a previously planned Christmas outing with his wife and two small children to Disney World, which is where he was when his signing with Texas was announced last week.
The 34-year-old righthander spent the first nine years of his career with the New York Mets, who won 101 games last season. His arrival comes an offseason after the Rangers made a pricey, long-time commitment to middle infielders Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and Marcus Semien ($175 million, 7 years) and then went 68-94.
deGrom said Seager and Semien played a significant role in his decision and that, while he had been in contact with the Mets, he was excited about Texas after his conversations with the Rangers — including new manager and three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy, general manager Chris Young, and owner Ray Davis.
“They showed a ton of interest right at the start, and the feelings were mutual,” deGrom said. “I want to play this game for a long time and want to win.”
Young said the addition of deGrom is a big step toward the Rangers’ goal of building a world-championship organization, and the full expectation next season is to compete for a playoff spot.
“I’m ecstatic. To win in our game, you need pitching,” said Bochy, who was sitting to deGrom’s left. “We couldn’t have a better guy to head up this rotation. We’ve added to the rotation. So don’t tell me we can’t win. ... We’re a much better club right now than just a few weeks ago.”
Before having to miss the final three months of the 2021 season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, deGrom had a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings. He was then shut down late in spring training this year because of a stress reaction in his right scapula and didn’t make his first big-league start until Aug. 2.
He went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts, then opted out of a $30.5 million deal for 2023 to become a free agent for the first time.
“Last year’s was a weird injury, but finished the year strong and the goal’s to go out there and take the ball every fifth day for the Texas Rangers,” he said. “The goal is to make 30-plus starts and I truly believe that I will be able to do that.”
Phillies, Trea Turner so happy together
Bryce Harper lobbed Philadelphia’s first recruiting pitch over the summer when the injured All-Star used a guest stint in the broadcast booth to advocate for the future free agent and his former Washington teammate.
“Trea Turner, he’s my favorite player in the league,” Harper said. “Not even close.”
Harper and Turner have been reunited by the National League champion Phillies for the upcoming season and well beyond. Turner’s $300 million, 11-year contract with the Phillies was finalized, a deal that’ll take the 29-year-old shortstop and 2021 NL batting champion into his 40s.
A long-term risk, perhaps, for the Phillies, but one owner John Middleton and president Dave Dombrowski were willing to take with the Phillies’ championship window open for the next few seasons. Harper still has nine years left on his $330 million, 11-year free-agent deal, though he could miss at least two months as he recovers from elbow surgery.
Turner can certainly help steady a lineup that lost a combined a no-hitter to the Houston Astros in the World Series and lost in six games — and likely from the top of the order, knocking free-swinging NL home run champ Kyle Schwarber down a spot or two.
Schwarber, who struck out 200 times, did steal a career-high 10 bases. Turner, though, has led the league in steals twice and had 27 last season.
“He stole a lot of bases last year. He’s kind of coming around there,” Turner said with a laugh. “I don’t know if I want to kick him out of there.”
Turner hit .298 with 21 homers and a career-high 100 RBIs this year in his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also scored 101 runs.
“We pictured playing with Bryce and Schwarber and a lot of those guys on the team now,” Turner said at Citizens Bank Park. “It just seemed like a lot of things added up and pointed us in this direction.”
Dombrowski downplayed the decision to spend so much money on Turner, especially deep into his 30s, when players are traditionally on the downside of their careers.
“I do think sometimes you have to differentiate between a normal big league player and an elite athlete,” Dombrowski said. “I do think there are some differences in that regard, too. We have done a lot of research in that regard. An elite athlete can last longer at the performance level than, say, other individuals can.”
Rays reliever J.P. Feyerisen out to start ′23 after surgery
Tampa Bay Rays reliever J.P. Feyereisen had right shoulder surgery this week after experiencing renewed discomfort while playing catch, the team announced. Dr. Keith Meister in Dallas operated on the righthander on Wednesday, doing a general clean-up of the rotator cuff and labrum.
The Rays said the goal is for Feyereisen to resume throwing in four months.
Feyereisen went 4-0 with one save in 22 games before a right shoulder impingement ended his season after an outing on June 2. He allowed one unearned run over 24⅓ innings.
Jason Heyward lands with Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Jason Heyward to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training.
The 33-year-old was released by the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason.
Heyward, who was injured at times last season, put up the worst offensive numbers of his career, batting .204 and with 10 RBIs and one home run in 137 plate appearances. However, he’s a valuable defender in the outfield.
The deal reunites Heyward with first baseman Freddie Freeman. They came up through the Atlanta Braves system and have remained friends ever since.
Heyward was a leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse, helping them win the 2016 World Series.