According to SpotRac, DeGrom’s current market value is around $42 million per year. He’s projected to sign a three year, $125 million contract. Would the Braves spend that much to move deGrom to the Deep South?
(Editor’s note: earlier this week, Ben covered the other side of this question. So before you go nuclear in the comments section, read this first)
The Atlanta Braves should sign Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball, and he has been since 2018. When he entered the league as a 26 year old rookie, deGrom stunned the baseball world. He posted a 2.69 ERA, winning Rookie of the Year and alerting people to a special talent in New York City.
He improved during his sophomore campaign. In 30 starts, deGrom pitched to a 2.54 ERA in 191 innings with 205 Ks; the stellar year yielded his first All-Star nod and a seventh place finish in Cy Young voting.
After two years of good-to-great pitching, deGrom went nuclear in 2018. He’s unleashed flame throwing absurdity ever since, conducting an awe-inspiring (or horror-inspiring, when playing the Braves) five year rampage across the league. In those five seasons, he’s authorized a 2.13 ERA and a 12.8 K/9 innings pitched.
deGrom’s success is partially due to his unique velocity increases. He entered the league with a 93.9 MPH fastball. Its velocity jumped each season; now, it averages 98.9 MPH. Likewise, his slider has increased in velo as well. In 2014, it averaged 87 MPH. Now, its a breaking pitch that averages 92.6 MPH and maxes out at 96.1 MPH.
A 96 MPH slider. The man is cracked.
But what about Dansby Swanson?
Signing deGrom would not be more beneficial than re-signing Dansby Swanson. Swanson should be the priority. But, as the French say, why not both?
Do the French actually say that? Who cares, because Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk said the baseball equivalent. McGuirk told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he believes Atlanta will soon have a top-five payroll.
According to the Braves recent earning report, Atlanta could fit both Swanson and deGrom. With Charlie Morton on a one year deal and Vaughn Grissom a cheap option to transition to left field, the Braves could make it work. It’d be tight. But it’d be worth it.
The sole reason the Braves should hesitate to make deGrom the highest paid player in the team’s history is his injuries. He missed a lot of time over the last two seasons. At 34, he isn’t a spring chicken. However, injuries are a concern in every contract for any player, in particular pitchers.
Michael Brantley was often hurt with the Indians; he wasn’t with the Astros. A player’s future health is a blank page. It should be considered, but it shouldn’t be feared.
Furthermore, he isn’t projected to sign a long-term deal. If he’s willing to sign a two or three year deal with an absurd yearly average, the Braves can have the best of both worlds. Their financial future would be protected from an albatross and their present would be all-in for another title.
The reward outweighs the (somewhat significant) risk. The Braves increased payroll means they can sign deGrom without tempting financial ruin (For the definition of financial ruin, see: Barcelona, FC.). If it doesn’t work out perfect, Atlanta will be okay. If it works out at all, Atlanta could be champions.
And as the saying goes, you gotta risk it to get the biscuit.