If the New York Mets are going to capitalize on employing one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, they’re running out of time.
Jacob deGrom is set to enter his eighth season at the major-league level in 2021, yet he’s participated in just one Mets playoff run during his career in Queens. New York has made two postseason appearances since deGrom’s rookie year in 2014, but he missed their NL Wild Card Game appearance in 2016 due to injury.
New York’s inability to build around its starting pitching has proved all the more glaring over the last three years as deGrom has developed into a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher. He won back-to-back NL Cy Young awards in 2018 and 2019, years in which the Mets finished with 77 and 86 wins, respectively. He then followed that up with a third-place finish in 2020 while the Mets went 26-34 in the pandemic-shorted campaign.
New York Post reporter Mike Vaccaro joined NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals Talk podcast for an NL East roundtable. He discussed why the Mets’ expectations are so high for next season even putting aside billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen’s purchase of the team.
“I think the playoffs are an imperative this year for them,” Vaccaro said. “Not just because of Steve Cohen coming in and his way bellicose ways. But the fact is that…the Mets have their own Mike Trout in Jacob deGrom and they really have done a great job of wasting the prime of Jacob deGrom’s career. He was spectacular in the 2015 playoffs and he hasn’t been back.
“For that alone, they feel a clock ticking in terms of taking advantage of having a guy who’s still probably going to be one of the two or three best starting pitchers of baseball and of course to fulfilling the ambitions that Bobby Axelrod [a character from the TV show ‘Billions’] will have now that he owns the team.”
The Mets are expected to be among baseball’s busiest teams this offseason. While the free-agent market has been slow to develop, New York still remains connected to top options such as George Springer, Trevor Bauer and DJ LeMahieu.
DeGrom is signed through 2023 with a hefty team option for 2024, so the Mets won’t be losing him to another franchise anytime soon. However, there’s no telling how much longer the 32-year-old will remain effective. The time to go all-in is now.