By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom sees the vision of what the Texas Rangers want to do, not their streak of six consecutive losing seasons and being more than a decade removed from their only World Series appearances.
“The Rangers did a great job with constant communication and making me feel like they really wanted me here,” deGrom said Thursday during his introduction in Texas. “The vision was the same, build something great, and win year in and year out.”
DeGrom is the latest big-money add — on a $185 million, five-year deal — for the Rangers as they try to turn things around. They nabbed deGrom last Friday before baseball’s winter meetings had even started. After completing his physical and the contract in Texas, he was even able to make it home for a previously planned Christmas outing with his wife and two small children at Disney World, which is where he was when his signing with Texas was announced last week.
The 34-year-old right-hander spent the first nine years of his career with the New York Mets, who won 101 games last season. His arrival comes an offseason after the Rangers made a pricey, long-time commitment to middle infielders Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years) and then went 68-94.
DeGrom said Seager and Semien played a significant role in his decision and that, while he had been in contact with the Mets, he was excited about Texas after his conversations with the Rangers — including new manager and three-time World Series champion Bruce Bochy, general manager Chris Young and owner Ray Davis.
“They showed a ton of interest right at the start, and the feelings were mutual,” deGrom said. “I want to play this game for a long time and want to win.”
Young said the addition of deGrom is a big step toward the Rangers’ goal of building a world championship organization, and the full expectation next season is to compete for a playoff spot.
“I’m ecstatic. To win in our game, you need pitching,” said Bochy, who was sitting to deGrom’s left. “We couldn’t have a better guy to head up this rotation. We’ve added to the rotation. So don’t tell me we can’t win. … We’re a much better club right now than just a few weeks ago.”
DeGrom joins a Rangers rotation that also includes Jon Gray, the right-hander whose $56 million, four-year deal last winter was overshadowed by Seager and Semien.
All-Star left-hander Martín Pérez this offseason accepted a $19.65 million qualifying offer to stay with the Rangers, who also acquired former All-Star right-hander Jake Odorizzi from Atlanta in a trade last month. Left-hander Andrew Heaney agreed this week to a $25 million, two-year deal with Texas.
Before having to miss the final three months of the 2021 season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, deGrom had a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings. He was then shut down late in spring training this year because of a stress reaction in his right scapula and didn’t make his first big-league start until Aug. 2.
He went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 starts, then opted out of a $30.5 million deal for 2023 to become a free agent for the first time.
“Last year’s was a weird injury, but finished the year strong and the goal’s to go out there and take the ball every fifth day for the Texas Rangers,” he said.
Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister was one of the doctors who reviewed deGrom’s scapula last season since he had experience with that type of injury, but didn’t personally examine him. Meister told deGrom it would heal completely, and the pitcher said he felt great when he came back.
He is now ready for another full season, after making only 38 starts the past three years.
“The goal is to make 30-plus starts and I truly believe that I will be able to do that,” he said.
DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings in his career. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.
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