Jacob deGrom free agency buzz: Potential suitor Rays sign Zach Eflin to three-year deal

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (56) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park.
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (56) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park. / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the latest buzz and rumors surrounding Mets ace Jacob deGrom's free agency...

Dec. 1, 8:05 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who have reportedly expressed interest in deGrom earlier this offseason, inked Zach Eflin to a three-year, $40 million deal on Thursday. This contract is the largest free agent contract in the team's history.

Whether Tampa Bay is finished signing starting pitchers to round out their rotation remains to be seen, but this could take the normally low-payroll Rays out of the running for deGrom.

In 20 games (13 starts) for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, Eflin went 3-5 and pitched to a 4.04 ERA (1.12 WHIP) with 65 strikeouts in 75.2 innings.

Pitching out of the bullpen during Philadelphia's World Series run, Eflin pitched 10.2 innings and gave up four earned runs.

Dec. 1, 1:19 p.m.

Mets GM Billy Eppler, speaking on Thursday during a Zoom with reporters to reintroduce Edwin Diaz, was asked how important it was to get a resolution on deGrom before making other free agency moves.

Eppler, not mentioning deGrom by name after the question, seemed to suggest that the deGrom domino doesn't have to fall before the Mets act elsewhere.

"I wouldn't say that's critically important," Eppler said. "We've assessed the market, and we've had enough dialogue to try to get a sense of what we think is going to be a reality.

"We are positioned to be able to execute other things if it makes sense, and we get close enough. We don't need one thing to happen first before other things can become a reality."

As the Mets have maintained dialogue with deGrom's camp, they have also spoken with Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, and Japanese ace Kodai Senga.

Additionally, it was reported on Wednesday by Jeff Passan of ESPN that the Mets are hoping to retain Chris Bassitt.

Nov. 28, 9:14 a.m.

The Texas Rangers "seem more confident" about signing Carlos Rodon or Kodai Senga than they are about landing Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. 

SNY's Andy Martino reported on Nov. 23 that the Rangers appeared "very interested" in Rodon, adding that Texas was a "sleeper team" to watch on Senga.

Martino reported on Nov. 21 that the Mets were hopeful deGrom would choose them.

In addition to deGrom, the Mets have spoken with Verlander and Senga. They have not yet been connected to Rodon.

Nov. 23, 4:36 p.m.

The Texas Rangers now appear "very interested" in free agent RHP Carlos Rodon, reports SNY's Andy Martino, who wonders who else would offer deGrom three years if the Rangers pass.

It is conceivable that the Rangers could sign both Rodon and deGrom, but it seems reasonable to believe Rodon landing in Texas would decrease the chances of them signing deGrom.

As far as what Rodon's contract might look like, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that he would receive a deal worth $140 million over five years -- an average annual value of $28 million.

The other teams -- aside from the Mets -- that have been connected to deGrom are the Atlanta Braves and Yankees, though Martino does not believe deGrom will wind up in the Bronx.

Nov. 21, 12:39 p.m.

The Mets are "hopeful that deGrom will choose them," reports SNY's Andy Martino.

Per Martino, retaining deGrom remains a priority for the Mets, who are also exploring alternatives.

Among the potential alternatives are Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga.

As far as the Mets' competition for deGrom, Martino reports that there are four teams that have been linked to him including the Mets. The other teams are the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, and Yankees.

Martino reported that the Yankees have requested medical information on deGrom but have not yet decided whether or not they'll pursue him.

Nov. 15, 10:45 a.m.

With the Mets believing that the Texas Rangers are "serious suitors" for deGrom, New York is considering a pursuit of free agent Justin Verlander and "forging ahead" with a pursuit of Japanese ace Kodai Senga, league sources told SNY's Andy Martino.

The Mets will soon meet with Senga, who is in the United States visiting interested teams.

Per Martino, the idea of signing Verlander to a high average annual value deal has been "floating around the Mets front office for months."

While the Mets are discussing a pursuit of Verlander and will meet with Senga, they remain engaged with deGrom's camp, notes Martino.

Nov. 15, 9:03 a.m.

The Atlanta Braves signing deGrom is "highly unlikely," reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Per The Athletic, the Braves are "reluctant to enter into a deal with any player who takes up too high a percentage of their payroll," since their younger players will soon receive pay increases.

DeGrom, 34, is expected to seek a deal that could eclipse Max Scherzer's record average annual value of $43.3 million. In that deal, Scherzer received three guaranteed years with an opt-out after the second season.

The Braves and Texas Rangers have been viewed as two of the most likely landing spots for deGrom in the event he leaves the Mets.

SNY's Andy Martino recently reported that the Mets would be happy to re-sign deGrom and could extend a strong offer early on in the process, but might balk at a deal of four years at a high average annual value.

Nov. 10, 10:40 a.m.

DeGrom has let the Texas Rangers know he's interested in signing there, reports Jon Heyman of The New York Post.

Heyman speculates, however, that Carlos Rodon might ultimately be a better fit for Texas.

SNY's Andy Martino reported earlier this week that the Mets viewed the Rangers and Atlanta Braves as two of the teams who could sign deGrom away from them.

Mets GM Billy Eppler said on Nov. 9 that the team and deGrom have had dialogue about him returning.

Martino reported earlier this week that the Mets would likely make a strong early offer for deGrom, but could be hesitant to guarantee four years at significant dollars.

Nov. 8, 8:30 p.m.

Mets GM Billy Eppler told the media at the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday that the team and deGrom have had talks about the RHP returning to New York.

While Eppler spoke in length about the various talks so far, he also said that both sides have made a "pact" that they will be in constant contact this offseason.

"We want to stay in communication with each other and to be very transparent with each other," Eppler said of deGrom's camp. "They’ll have a sense of what we’re doing and hopefully we’ll have a sense of what they’re doing.”

Eppler said that he does not have a sense on how long talks will take, but the team will continue to explore free agency and even the trade market to build their team for the 2023 season.

Nov. 8, 7:05 p.m.

At the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Rangers GM Chris Young told reporters how Texas will approach free agency and they'll be looking for pitchers.

"[Starting pitching] is our No. 1 priority," Young said. "We recognize the limitations we had especially in the starting rotation last year. We're going to allocate the majority of our resources towards pitching this year."

With Jacob deGrom opting out of his contract with the Mets, there will be plenty of teams vying for his services, including the Rangers, per SNY's Andy Martino. Jon Heyman of The New York Post reported last week that the Rangers are going to "pony up" while making a run at deGrom.

Martino reported Tuesday that the Mets have made preliminary contact with deGrom's camp, but nothing has progressed very far yet. Mets GM Billy Eppler said Tuesday there was no sense yet on the timing regarding deGrom.

Nov. 8, 3:55 p.m.

SNY's Andy Martino reported from the GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday that there has been preliminary contact between the Mets and deGrom's camp, but that nothing has progressed very far yet.

Martino added that the Mets want deGrom back, but would be hesitant to offer four years if another team offered four years at a very high number.

Martino reported on Monday night that he believes the Mets will make a "strong" early offer for deGrom, but that they won't let deGrom "lead them down a free agency chase" to the high point of the bidding.

Per Martino, the Mets will offer what they think deGrom is worth, perhaps go a bit higher, and will be happy if he returns.

Martino added that the Mets remain unsure whether deGrom wants to be back, and cited the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers as the two teams the Mets are most worried about when it comes to who could sign deGrom away.

As far as average annual value, the belief has been that deGrom will want to eclipse Max Scherzer's record deal that paid him $43.3 million annually. Martino notes that it remains to be seen whether deGrom's market will reach that level.

Nov. 7, 10:15 a.m.

DeGrom made the expected move official on Monday morning, as the two-time Cy Young winner opted out of the remaining two years of his Mets contract, making him a free agent.

The ace stated multiple times over the past season that he intended to opt out of the five-year, $137.5 million extension that he signed in March of 2019.

DeGrom was set to make $30.5 million in 2023, and had he opted in, the Mets would have had a team option for $32.5 million in 2024.

Oct. 28, 11:28 a.m.

The Texas Rangers are going to "pony up" while making a run at deGrom, a rival predicted to Jon Heyman of The New York Post.

The Rangers spent a ton of money last offseason, including inking Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to megadeals, and are now focused on adding starting pitching.

There has been industry speculation that deGrom might want to go to a team like the Atlanta Braves and play closer to his home in Florida than New York is. Texas doesn't exactly qualify in that regard.

The Mets will attempt to re-sign deGrom, SNY's Andy Martino reported earlier this month, adding that the club was unsure how aggressive that effort would be.

There is an expectation that deGrom could be seeking the highest average annual value ever for a pitcher -- a record currently held by Max Scherzer, who is making $43.3 million per year in his current three-year deal with the Mets.

Oct. 28, 9:12 a.m.

Former Mets and current Philadelphia Phillies pitchers Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard weighed in on the deGrom situation on Thursday as they prepared for Game 1 of the World Series.

"He told me he is happy there," Wheeler told Mike Puma of The New York Post. "I just think he wants to get compensated for what he’s done."

Added Wheeler about the five-year, $137.5 million extension deGrom signed with the Mets before the 2019 season:

"I don’t think it was the right compensation at the time," Wheeler said. "I can’t speak for him, it’s a lot of money and it’s life-changing money and I think anybody would have taken that at the time. But at the same time people have seen what he’s done and maybe you can correct it along the way, and this is his chance to correct it."

Syndergaard told The Post he would be "surprised" if deGrom left the Mets:

"With Steve Cohen anything is possible, especially when you have a pitcher like deGrom — he’s got the potential and stuff to be the best pitcher ever to walk this earth," Syndergaard said. "I just hope that he stays healthy."

In other Syndergaard buzz, before he wound up with the Phillies he told the Los Angeles Angels that he would rather not be in Philadelphia or with any team in the same division with the Mets, reports Jon Heyman of The Post.

However, Heyman notes that Syndergaard now "loves it" in Philadelphia.