Jacob deGrom says thought ‘went into his mind’ that Wild Card Series start could be last with Mets

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Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom guided New York to victory on Saturday night against the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series. He delivered a quality start, surrendering two runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over six innings. Had the Mets lost on Saturday, or if they were to lose Sunday’s decisive Game 3, it’s possible that deGrom’s Game 2 performance will be his last in a Mets uniform.

That’s because deGrom can (and has indicated he will) opt out of his contract this offseason, foregoing the one year and $32.5 million remaining on the pact. He acknowledged after Game 2 that the possibility “went into his mind” prior to his start, but said that his hope was to “win a baseball game and continue to keep playing.”

Should deGrom hit the open market, he’s likely to attract the usual big-spending suspects. Injuries have limited him to 26 starts since the start of the 2021 season, yet he’s remained highly effective when he’s been hearty and hale. In 156 innings, he’s accumulated a 1.90 ERA (208 ERA+) and a 13.05 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 

The Mets would seem to have the inside track on re-signing deGrom for a few reasons. They’ll possess an exclusive negotiating window leading up to his free agency, and owner Steve Cohen has shown no concern for the luxury tax. Cohen’s limits will be tested again this offseason, however, since deGrom is one of several notable Mets who could hit the market, including closer Edwin Diaz and center fielder Brandon Nimmo. First baseman Pete Alonso will also be due a sizable raise in arbitration.

The Mets already have more than $185 million in guaranteed payroll for next season. It’s conceivable that deGrom’s ask reaches a point where the Mets feel they’d be better off spending the money elsewhere rather than on an aging starter with sporadic availability. You can understand, then, why deGrom at least entertained the notion that Saturday could have (and may still prove to be) his final stand with the Mets.

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