The Texas Rangers made the first stunning move of MLB's offseason Friday night. Texas signed two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom away from the deep-pocketed New York Mets with a massive five-year, $185 million contract. The $37 million average annual value is the second highest ever behind Max Scherzer's contract with the Mets, which pays him $43.3 million annually.
"We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger," GM Chris Young said in a statement. "Over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout Major League pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation. One of our primary goals this off-season is to strengthen our starting pitching, and we are adding one of the best. I also want to recognize our ownership group, led by Ray Davis, for continuing to provide the resources to build a winning culture here in Arlington. On behalf of the entire organization, I welcome Jacob, his wife Stacey, and the entire deGrom family to the Rangers."
The Rangers lost 94 games in 2022 but there are reasons to believe they were better than their record suggests. Both their run differential (minus-36) and BaseRuns record (.457) indicate Texas was closer to a true talent .500 team, and their 15-35 record in one-run games was easily the worst in baseball. Had a few more of those coin flip one-run games gone their way, their record would have been much more respectable.
That all said, the Rangers still have a long way to go to close the gap between where they sit now and winning the franchise's first World Series title. DeGrom is an excellent addition who helps close that gap significantly. There's still more work to be done, however. Here's what the Rangers need to do now that they've signed a new ace.
1. Add another starter
Yep, another one. Even after signing deGrom, even after retaining Martín Pérez with the qualifying offer, and even after trading for Jake Odorizzi. Rangers starters ranked 23rd with minus-1.5 WAR in 2022 and that was with Pérez having an All-Star season. It was the best season of his career. Their rotation depth chart now looks something like this:
1. RHP Jacob deGrom
2. LHP Martín Pérez
3. RHP Jon Gray
4. RHP Jake Odorizzi
5. RHP Dane Dunning
RHP Glenn Otto
Odorizzi has averaged 4.6 innings per start the last two seasons and probably fits best as a one-time-through-the-order multi-inning reliever at this point in his career. Dunning has been a tick below league average the last two seasons and Otto hasn't impressed in his MLB action the last two seasons. And let's be real here, deGrom's injury history is scary. That top three is quite strong. Things get dicey after that.