Baseball Free Agency Chaos in New York

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Entering the 2023 MLB offseason, the top two free agents on the market both spent their entire careers playing in the Big Apple: Aaron Judge on the New York Yankees and Jacob deGrom for the New York Mets. Both teams made it clear that resigning their respective superstar was their number one priority before offering contracts to them. 

With arguably the best hitter and pitcher in baseball both on the market, two reunions were not going to be easy, though both players had claimed a desire to stay with their franchises for their careers. Both players were not only courted by their original teams but also by many other teams throughout Major League Baseball. 

Judge had just come off of a record-breaking season, hitting 62 home runs, the most in a season in the American League, surpassing Roger Maris’ previous record of 61 homers. He led the league in homeruns, runs scored, runs batted in (RBIs), total bases, and many other offensive statistics. This was more than enough reason to want Judge back, let alone his regular season accolades of earning the prestigious AL MVP and another Silver Slugger award to add to his collection. 

Aaron Judge with Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.

However, even though the Yankees wanted him back, Judge didn’t seem too eager to return. After meeting with the team in April to discuss a contract offer, Judge rejected the initial offer, figuring it to be too low and not what he wanted. Judge asked for an extra inclusion of privacy from the team, that they keep the details of the rejected contract quiet, so as to not have the fans turn on him for the rest of the season and moving forward. 

However, General Manager Brian Cashman proceeded to do just the opposite, revealing to the public the specifics of the aforementioned rejected contract. This wasn’t the first time Cashman had done this either. Derek Jeter revealed that when he became a free agent in 2010 for the first time, a very similar thing happened. 

Judge seemed to be packing his bags and it was rumored he was likely to fall into the arms of his favorite team growing up, the San Francisco Giants. Growing up in Sacramento, he always dreamed of playing in the Bay Area and the feeling was mutual, as the Giants claimed they wouldn’t be outbid for his services. On Dec. 7th, however, after extremely heavy speculation, Judge accepted a nine year, $360 million deal from the New York Yankees to remain in pinstripes until 2031. 

Jacob deGrom at his first press conference as a Ranger.

Jacob deGrom, on the other hand, had a very different but still interesting story. Being the most dominant pitcher in the last five years, accumulating a ERA of 2.05, three All-Star selections, back-to-back Cy Young Award wins in 2018 and 2019 along with considerations for MVP and more Cy Young Awards., Needless to say, deGrom was arguably the hands-down best pitcher on the market in 2022, if not in all of baseball.

 There was some sour taste in the Flushing Faithfull’s mouths towards deGrom after the previous season, as fans knew that it would likely be his last year with the Mets. In contrast to Judge, deGrom had an option in his contract to become a free agent after the 2022 season and not stay for the 2023 season. The Mets offered him a qualifying offer in Nov. of 2022 for $19.65 million which he turned down. 

There were rumored to be many teams looking to acquire the services of the ace, with the Mets obviously being in the mix. However, on Dec. 2nd, Jacob deGrom made his decision and ended up signing with the rebuilding Texas Rangers for five years with a contract worth $185 million. It was reported by The Post’s Joel Sherman that the Mets did offer Jacob a three-year deal with the money around the $120 million area. With injuries and contract talks being big factors, the sides of the Mets and deGrom have parted ways. The Mets have brought in 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner and 2022 World Series champion Justin Verlander to fill that void left by deGrom. 

The 2022 offseason started off incredibly slow with not many signing happening until the beginning recently. But with the free agency lid fully blown off, and many signings still occurring, both the Mets and the Yankees will look to be World Series contenders in 2023.

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