Thursday, March 23 2023

Tomase: Bloom could solve multiple challenges by signing Jacob deGrom originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Signing any starter pitcher in free agency requires a strong stomach. They’re simultaneously terrible long-term investments and unavoidably essential to the health of an organization. Unless you’re the Braves of the ’90s, homegrown rotations generally aren’t a thing.

As the Red Sox embark on the most pivotal offseason of Chaim Bloom’s tenure, rebuilding the starting staff tops the to-do list. Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill are free agents, and even if all returned, what they provided in 2022 — a 4.49 starting ERA that ranked 22nd in baseball — wasn’t good enough.

After years of dinking around the periphery with bargain signings like Martin Perez, Garrett Richards, and Wacha/Hill, the Red Sox have little choice but to spend if they want a legitimate arm to front their staff.

One available name represents a serious roll of the dice, but with incredible upside. He’s poised to earn a huge contract despite exhibiting only intermittent availability over the last two years, which actually might make him more attainable.

Tomase: Where the Red Sox stand with four key figures as the hot stove heats up

He’s two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom of the Mets, and if the Red Sox want to take a big swing this winter, deGrom is it.

The ceiling on such a signing is practically limitless. It’s not always obvious because he has missed so much time, but deGrom remains the most singularly dominating force in the game. Though he has made just 26 starts over the last two years, his production in that time has been otherworldly — a 1.90 ERA, 248 strikeouts, and only 19 walks and 80 hits in 156.1 innings.

The 34-year-old right-hander still routinely hits 100 mph, and the thought of running him to the mound multiple times in the postseason should appeal to any contender.

The Red Sox, with over $100 million coming off the books, are in a position to blow him away by following a recent trend. The Astros last winter gave Justin Verlander a one-year, $25 million contract, even though he hadn’t thrown a pitch in almost two years. The 39-year-old rewarded them by leading the league in wins (18) and ERA (1.75), making him the frontrunner to claim a third Cy Young Award. He also ended his personal World Series while helping Houston win it all.

deGrom isn’t going to sign anywhere for $25 million, but the concept still holds: short years at big money. A case can be made that on upside alone, deGrom is worth a record offer of, say, three years and $150 million. That would make him the highest-paid pitcher ever on an annual basis, topping the $43.3 million teammate Max Scherzer makes with the Mets on his own short/big deal of three years and $130 million.

deGrom would immediately remake the Red Sox rotation, giving them an arm to rival any in the American League. And while the annual cost would be high, the total in terms of years and dollars is manageable without hamstringing the franchise for six or eight years.

The downside is that deGrom has been sidelined by shoulder and elbow injuries over the last two years. He underwent Tommy John surgery after his first pro season in 2010, and if there’s a positive spin, it’s that he has only thrown 1,326 innings, less than half the totals of either Verlander or Scherzer. His violent delivery may strain his arm, but his reasonable lifetime workload makes him less of a burnout candidate from an attritional sense.

The Red Sox may decide that risk is too great, particularly since they’re already paying Chris Sale $27.5 million with no guarantee that he’ll be able to make 10 starts, let alone 30, thanks to a rash of injuries.

Perhaps that’s too much uncertainty for one rotation, but consider the upside. Opening a playoff series with deGrom on the mound is exactly the kind of move that wins back a skeptical fanbase. The Red Sox have the resources to make it happen. We’ll see if they’ve got the guts to match.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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