Jacob deGrom to the Rangers!? Texas goes bold, but can this signing actually work?

  • Covers MLB for ESPN.com
  • Former deputy editor of Page 2
  • Been with ESPN.com since 1995

Welcome to checkbook baseball. When it’s your team signing the checks, it can be lots of fun!

The Texas Rangers and Jacob deGrom always made a lot of sense. The Rangers are desperate for starting pitching. They’re in win-now mode after signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien last year and hiring three-time World Series-winning manager Bruce Bochy earlier this offseason. Most importantly, they’re a big-market team that has been operating like a mid-market team for too long. After operating top-10 payrolls each season from 2012 to 2015, the Rangers entered a rebuild that has yet to produce any positive results. Their payrolls slid to 19th and 20th the past two seasons — and they lost 102 games in 2021 and 94 in 2022, leading to the firing of long-time executive Jon Daniels in August.

So the Rangers had money to spend … but nobody expected a five-year contract for a 35-year-old pitcher who has made just 26 starts over the last two seasons. Even one who at his peak from 2018 through the first half of 2021 posted a 1.94 ERA across 91 starts, the highest level of performance the sport had seen from a starting pitcher over a period of years since Pedro Martinez. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel predicted a three-year contract for deGrom, albeit with a higher annual average of $44 million, as opposed to the $37 million AAV of this $185 million deal. Others predicted a similar deal.

Five years? It’s the ultimate high-risk signing from new general manager Chris Young and owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson.

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