In 2013, deGrom was pitching for the Mets—the St. Lucie Mets, that is. But in 2014, he was in the big league club's starting rotation. When asked about his quick ascension to the Major Leagues, deGrom rattled off a few factors.
"Coming off of Tommy John, the rehab, I worked hard to get back to where I needed to be and had a good staff down there helping me out," deGrom said. "I think just learning more about pitching as I went up each level—that helped a lot," deGrom said, adding that his pitching coaches along the Minor League ladder were particularly helpful.
The lanky righthander doesn't let the spotlight of the Big Apple affect his performance.
"I try not to let that get to me," deGrom said in July 2014. "It's the same game—just at a different level. They're a lot better up here. I just go out there every time and try to locate, keep the ball down, and try to get quick outs. I try not to let the surroundings get to me. I keep a level head and keep the same approach."
The ninth-round draft pick had never been a heralded prospect, and he wasn't even a pitcher until his junior year at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. He played shortstop for the Hatters during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
"My junior year I was going to just close, and then they asked if I wouldn't mind starting," he said. "It was probably a third of the way, or halfway through the season, and I said that was fine, so that's really how it happened."
Jake says the key to his success was keeping runners off base.
"[My start on July 2], only the first inning hurt me," deGrom said. "I walked two guys, gave up a base hit, walked the next two guys, and with two outs gave up a hit. I think just not walking people and trying to keep them off the bases helped me out for the start that I just had."
Not bad for a guy who didn't even get on the mound until his junior year of college. (Stephen Jacobson - MLB.com - 7/12/2014)
deGrom was married to his wife, Stacey, on Nov. 8, 2014.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
For the 2014 season:
–deGrom was named the NL Rookie of the Year by Sporting News magazine.
–The Major League Baseball Players Association named deGrom its NL Outstanding Rookie, an award voted upon by fellow players.
–Jake was named the NL Rookie Player of the Year via the Player's Choice Awards.
–deGrom was named the NL Rookie of the Year, beating out the Reds CF Billy Hamilton and the Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong.
deGrom worked during the 2012–2013 offseason on his neighbor's livestock ranch, when he broke his finger while castrating a calf. It was two days before he was to report to spring training.
"I never picked anything in the minor leagues. I would always just tell them, 'Play whatever.' But then I didn't really like the song they were playing when I got called up. So I just decided to change to 'Simple Man.' I like slower music like that. It kind of calms me down, I guess. I don't want to get too amped up going into the first inning," deGrom said.
For deGrom, the real reason to keep rockin' those luscious locks is that they apparently help him fool hitters. According to Bob Klapisch of NorthJersey.com, at least one hitter admitted that the hair was distracting:
This comes from someone who faced deGrom in the postseason last year, and admitted those flowing locks were a problem. Big problem.
"First of all, I see this guy on the mound who looks like a stick figure," the hitter said. "I mean, you don't see Major League pitchers who look like that. And he's got that hair—you can't not look at it, it's everywhere. It bothers me when I'm trying to pick up the ball out of his hand. All I see is hair."
This came as news to deGrom, who previously vowed to chop that hair clean off before the start of the season:
I mentioned that scouting report to deGrom, who laughed and said, "That's pretty cool." I then asked if he'd ever heard about his hair interfering with hitters' concentration and he shook his head.
"Not really, I don't talk to hitters much," deGrom said. "But I guess now I'll never cut it." (Mike Bertha - Cut4 - March 2016) (Editor's note: Jake did, in fact, cut his hair before the 2018 season. Then he went out and won the Cy Young.)
Jaxon Anthony deGrom was born at 9:23 p.m. ET on April 11, 2016, the newest addition to a happy family. For some time, Jacob had been looking forward to his son's birth.
April 16, 2016: Jacob went on the bereavement/medical emergency list due to complications regarding his newborn son. April 17, 2016: The outlook for Jacob deGrom's newborn baby has improved, Mets manager Terry Collins said in a piece of "tremendous news" for deGrom and his family. The couple hopes to take baby Jaxon home from the hospital as soon as April 18. "The baby is doing better," Collins said. "So that was a good sign. I just told Jake he needs to get some rest and a meal."
The waiting was the difficult part. The waiting, not knowing. Like any new parents, Jacob and Stacey deGrom stayed up deep into the night caring for him. It was not until early the next morning that the deGroms realized something was wrong with Jaxon, when Stacey's sister, a respiratory therapist, noticed the child's skin turning blue. Trained to spot this type of condition, Stacey's sister woke the baby up and his normal color returned.
The deGroms spent most of that early morning fretting over Jaxon, monitoring him, making sure nothing happened again. But it did keep happening, every time Jaxon slept. By around 6:30 a.m., exhausted, the parents relented to placing the new baby in the hospital's Natal Intensive Care Unit, where nurses could monitor him full-time. Thus began the waiting.
"It definitely scared us," deGrom said, opening up weeks later about the frightening time in his life. "You don't really know what's going on. You're waiting 24 hours for one test and 48 for another test, and the whole time you're just thinking, 'Oh, please, let nothing serious be wrong.'"
Under any circumstances, deGrom's first Father's Day as a dad would be an apt time for him to reflect and give thanks for the birth of his son. Jaxon's apnea condition, and the fear and confusion that engulfed deGrom at the time, only makes Stacey and him appreciate their growing family ever more.
In the days that followed Jaxon's entry into the NICU, deGrom spent sleepless nights on a hospital bed. "Especially for somebody who's 6-foot-4, you don't really fit on them too well," he laughed. They did everything he could to soften a situation out of his control. Also rehabbing a minor lat injury at the time, deGrom left his home in DeLand, Fla., several times per week around 7:00 a.m. to make a two-hour drive down to Port St. Lucie. There, he would throw bullpen sessions in front of Mets staffers, climb back into his car, and return to Stacey and Jaxon. It took five consecutive issue-free days for doctors to release Jaxon from the hospital.
"It was nice to have my family there," deGrom said. "Stacey did an unbelievable job. She was probably better together than I was through the whole thing."
Now more than two months old, Jaxon is the one commuting regularly, from Florida to New York City. When the Mets are on a long road trip, Stacey and Jaxon travel to DeLand, where family members can help care for the baby. When the Mets are home, the growing family, including a puppy named Pixie, reunites in New York.
Jaxon has begun making noises at all hours, thrilling the deGroms with his development. Jake took a cell phone video of Jaxon floating in a pool, thrashing his legs, smiling the whole time. He smiles a lot these days.
"I think it really puts things in perspective," deGrom said. "No matter how good or bad you do on the field, you go home and you've got a baby there. Especially from what I've heard when they get older, it doesn't matter how you do, they're there and they're happy to see you. We play this game for fun. Just on the bad days, it makes it that much better to go home and see your child there." (DiComo - MLB.com - 6/16/16)
June 18, 2017: deGrom hit his first Major League home run on Father's Day.
July 2018: deGrom was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game. deGrom was one strike away from collecting the second perfect inning of his All-Star career. Unfortunately, he needed to get that strike against Mike Trout.
Trout took the Mets ace deep in the third inning of the All-Star Game, though it turned out to be the only blemish on deGrom's outing.
deGrom took over for starter Max Scherzer with the National League trailing, 1-0. Facing the top of the AL's lineup, deGrom got Mookie Betts to fly out to center fielder Bryce Harper, then Jose Altuve hit a harmless popup to third baseman Nolan Arenado. Then came deGrom's biggest test: Trout, considered by most to be the game's best player.
"That's what it's about," deGrom said. "Going out there and playing against the best." deGrom got ahead of Trout, 1-2, but the Angels star drove a 92 mph sinker to left-center field, depositing it into the AL bullpen to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Jacob hit one home run in college, and it just happened to be off Chris Sale. In the top of the second inning during the opening game of the 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship tournament, deGrom hit the first home run of his collegiate career over the right-field fence. Sale had just recently been named the league's Pitcher of the Year and was starting for the No. 1 seed, Florida Gulf Coast University. (Cut4-2018)
Midway through the 2018 season, deGrom let his frustration show. That day, the Mets ace had been let down yet again by the team around him, having another strong start spoiled. All he could do was watch as 2018 slipped out of the club’s grip, just like 2017 had.
“I’m tired of losing, to be honest,” deGrom said quietly but firmly. Quickly, however, the Mets best player put that in perspective. “Everybody else in here I’m sure is. That’s not what we want to do. We came here to win baseball games and we’re not doing that,” deGrom continued. “We have to find a way to do that.”
In 2018, the Mets never really did find a way to do that. It was another disappointing year for the Amazin’s, who won just 77 games. Every fifth day, however, deGrom gave Mets fans something to get excited about. His starts were something to look forward to in a dismal year of injuries and losing. He usually rewarded them with an outstanding personal performance, even if it was a brief respite before the reality of the poor defense, bad bullpen or impotent lineup came back into focus.
Though he won just 10 of his 32 starts, and the Mets were just 14-18 when he took the mound, he was just one vote shy of being a unanimous winner of the NL Cy Young award. The first starter to win the award with just 10 wins, deGrom’s season has changed the way that people judge successful pitching.
His year was really the only reason for Mets fans to head out to Flushing in 2018. He was a ninth-round pick out of Stetson University in 2010 whom the Mets landed with a $95,000 signing bonus (compared to $2.5 million for first-rounder Matt Harvey). After a historic season, he is also the Daily News’ Sports Person of the Year. Among the Daily News sports staff, deGrom was the unanimous choice.
And it didn’t take advanced analytics to see how dominant deGrom was this season. He finished off his 2018 season with 24 straight quality starts and 29 consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer. Both are MLB records. (New York Daily News - Dec 29, 2018)
In 2018, deGrom had the highest current WAR (25.7) of any Mets player.
Feb 12, 2019: If the Mets intend to offer Jacob deGrom a contract extension, they'll need to do it soon. deGrom's representatives have set an Opening Day deadline to complete an extension, giving the sides six more weeks to work something out. deGrom has let the Mets know that he won't negotiate during the season, though it's possible he and the team could reopen talks next winter. When asked about deGrom's deadline, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen initially declined comment, before holding an impromptu press conference to describe Opening Day as a logical end point for talks.
"There's no reason for a distraction to carry into the regular season, and we will continue to have dialogue over the course of this spring, and see where these discussions lead," Van Wagenen said. "I think it's in everyone's best interest, so that the focus once the season starts is on the performance of the team. I think everybody feels like we've got a chance to play meaningful games right out of the gate, and we don't want to have anything stand in the way."
Entering 2019, deGrom has two years remaining under team control. He is making $17 million this season and would be due another raise in 2020. For much of the past year, deGrom has expressed his desire to a sign a long-term deal, though he began acknowledging toward the end of last season that it might not happen. If the Mets wait until next winter, deGrom will be a year from free agency, theoretically giving him less incentive to eschew the open market in favor of an in-house deal.
"I think anybody is open to an extension if it's right for you and your family," deGrom said. "Nothing is guaranteed in this game until you sign that deal, or hit free agency and sign a deal there. You just have to sit down and, at the end of the day, look at what's right for you and your family and kind of make a decision based upon that. I really do enjoy playing in New York. The fans have treated me great. I enjoy taking the mound at Citi Field in front of them and it's rare that a guy spends his career with one team. If that was something that they wanted to do, and me and [my wife] Stacey felt like it was the right move for us, then we'd be willing to definitely explore that."
Since deGrom made those comments, he has personally had no contact with the Mets regarding a contract extension. His former agent, Van Wagenen, is now the Mets' GM, and deGrom's current representatives at CAA, Jeff Berry and Matt Ricatto, met with Mets officials at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to gauge interest in a deal. Van Wagenen said the sides have since been in communication, though a source cautioned that talks have not grown serious.
"Jacob, as I've said many times before, we care about him," Van Wagenen said. "He knows we care about him. We know how important he is to the organization. And I think it will be my job to make sure there's no strained relationship no matter what takes place as we continue to move forward." (A DiComo - MLB.com - Feb 13, 2019)
April 3, 2019: deGrom had himself a day against the Marlins. First, he hit a solo home run in the third inning off of Trevor Richards, pushing the lead to 2-0. On the pitching side, deGrom set a new career-high with 14 strikeouts. deGrom had registered 13 strikeouts in a game four times, including twice last year.
In 2019, Jacob deGrom won the NL Pitcher Players Choice Award. DeGrom followed up a historic 2018 season with another and finished the year 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA, an NL-leading 255 strikeouts and a career-high 11.3 K/9. It's the third consecutive season deGrom has finished with 239 or more strikeouts.
CONSECUTIVE CY YOUNG AWARDS
Nov 13, 2019: The Baseball Writers’ Association of America made the Mets righthander the 11th pitcher in Major League history to win consecutive Cy Young Awards. For the second straight year, deGrom received 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes in the National League, this time toppling runner-up Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, who received the other first-place vote.
“Words can’t express it,” deGrom said, learning of his victory from his home in Deland, Florida. “I said it was a dream to win one, but to win back-to-back, honestly, I’m kind of speechless right now.”
Unlike 2018, deGrom endured a rocky beginning to his 2019 season, posting a 4.85 ERA in April while losing his last three starts of the month and, in his mind, focusing a bit too much on the idea of improving upon his Cy Young season. Then, he relaxed. Everything clicked. From May 1 forward, deGrom was the NL’s best pitcher, going 9-5 with a 2.07 ERA over his last 27 starts.
“I feel like I was trying to better what I did in 2018,” said deGrom, who finished 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA, up more than half a run from the previous season. “And then, once I had those three starts that weren’t so good—that were terrible, actually—I kind of got back to my mindset of 2018. I didn’t let much bother me.”
As late in the season as early September, both Scherzer and Ryu still presented legitimate challenges in the Cy Young race. But while Scherzer battled injuries and Ryu struggled to stay consistent, deGrom finished the season with 23 consecutive scoreless innings. In his final four starts, he went 3-0 with 35 strikeouts, two walks and a 0.32 ERA. He led the NL with 255 strikeouts, trailing only Ryu in ERA.
“It’s something that when I first came up,” deGrom said, “if you had asked me that or told me that this was going to happen, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.”
With another Cy Young, deGrom enters rarified air in both the present-day game as well as Mets history. He became the third NL pitcher this decade to win consecutive Cy Young Awards, joining the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (2013-14) and Scherzer (2016-17). deGrom also became the 20th pitcher to win multiple Cy Youngs.
“I think that Jake is, from my vantage point, the best pitcher in baseball,” Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said at the General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. “I think that Jake is steady, and he’s consistent with his mindset. I don’t think at any point that I had concern that Jake would be able to rebound [from] a couple of unsteady starts and return to Cy Young form.”
In New York, deGrom further cemented his status as one of the four most accomplished pitchers in franchise lore, alongside Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and Jerry Koosman. Seaver already has his number retired at Citi Field; Koosman will join him next summer, while Gooden could in the years to come. (A DiComo - MLB.com - Nov 13, 2019)
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Mets deGrom was named to the first team starting pitching group.
2019 Season: deGrom easily won the NL Cy Young and became the 11th pitcher to capture it in consecutive seasons. In 2018, deGrom had just 10 wins, and the Mets went 14-18 in his starts—the fewest wins by any starting pitcher to win the Cy Young, and the lowest team winning percentage in a Cy Young Award winner’s starts.
His 2019 numbers? An identical 14-18 Mets record when he started, and 11 individual wins.
In other words, deGrom now owns the top two spots on the list for fewest wins by a starter in a Cy Young Award-winning season and lowest team winning percentage in a Cy Young Award winner’s starts. deGrom didn’t match his 1.70 ERA from 2018, but he had a 2.07 ERA over his final 27 starts of 2019, allowing just a .199 opponents' average in that span. He finished the season on a 23-inning scoreless streak.
Since the start of 2018, he’s made 47 starts in which he allowed two or fewer runs, most among traditional starters in that span.
Fun fact about Chris Sale: He went to Florida Gulf Coast University and deGrom went to rival Stetson University (also in Florida). deGrom was both a shortstop and pitcher there. He hit one homer in his NCAA career, and that came off Chris Sale. Pretty cool.
2021 Opening Day: DeGrom became the third pitcher in Mets history to start Opening Day three years in a row. He joins Tom Seaver (10 in a row) and Dwight Gooden (four in a row).
deGrom shows a flair for . . . wrestling? Where in the world did he learn this move? Two days before he's set to face the Braves at Truist Park, deGrom was caught on MLB Network's Ballpark Cam in a wrestling takedown move with a Mets bullpen catcher in the outfield.
Like anything deGrom does these days, he dominated and pinned his overmatched teammate for a 2-count victory. (mlb.com - 6/29/2021)
July 2021: deGrom was chosen to represent the Mets in the All-Star Game.
Jacob has kept a low-key persona, which suits him. He does not court the spotlight even as his talent thrusts him into it every five days. He warms up to the Lynard Skynard song, "Simple Man," an apt choice.
His former manager, Terry Collins said, "There's no doubt in my mind that when he goes home for the winter, he's just Jacob deGrom, neighbor. He's a genuinely good guy."
"He's a humble guy from Florida," said Omar Minaya, the Mets GM when deGrom was drafter out of Stetson in 2010. "He's easygoing. When he's on that mound, though? Woo, watch out. Just stand back and enjoy."
In a rare moment early in 2021 spring training, Jacob pulled back the curtain on is internal confidence. He acknowledged to ESPN that he wants to pitch into his 40s and that he wants to be an "inner-circle" Hall of Famer.
Much of his college was spent as a shortstop and so he doesn't have the same wear and tear on his arm that some pitchers his age do. He wasn't in the majors until he was nearly 26.
deGrom is "a freak athlete," pitcher Jeremy Blevins said. When Jake throws a football, "he throws that think like Michael Vick or John Elway. He's good at anything he does."
Under different circumstances, he could be competing for gold at the Olympics, perhaps throwing the javelin. (Anthony McCarron - SNY Network - July, 2021)
March 14, 2022: - Fully healthy following an offseason of rest, Mets ace Jacob deGrom said definitively that he intends to trigger the opt-out in his contract after the 2022 season.
The decision won’t necessarily affect deGrom’s ability to be a Met for life, as he said he plans to be “in constant contact” with team officials after the season. Still, it at least opens the possibility that deGrom could pitch somewhere other than Queens in 2023 and beyond.
“That’s the business side of baseball,” deGrom said. “As a player, you build in opt-outs, and that’s the business side. But for me, I don’t want that to be any distraction. I’m excited about this team. I’ve said it before, I love being a Met. I think it would be really cool to be one for my entire career, but the plan is to exercise that [opt-out].”
deGrom hasn’t pitched at all since last July 7, when a bout of elbow inflammation sidelined him through the remainder of the year. He threw off a bullpen mound several times in September, however, and said at the time that he could have returned to game action had the Mets been in contention. A DiComo - MLB.com - March 14, 2022)
Aug. 31, 2022: Speaking of deGrom, Betts said, “He’s pretty much the best, maybe the best to ever pitch,” Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts said. “I don’t think anybody does (compare). I think the stats kind of say that as well.”
Sept. 2022: deGrom chose to play for team USA in the 2023 WBC.
Dec 2, 2022: A DeLand, Fla., native, deGrom was a college shortstop at Stetson University, where he once homered off future All-Star pitcher Chris Sale. He converted to pitching late in his collegiate career, eventually doing enough to become the Mets’ ninth-round Draft pick in 2010.
As a prospect, deGrom struggled through injuries, including Tommy John surgery, before debuting in 2014. The right-hander went on to win NL Rookie of the Year honors and make his first All-Star team the following summer, joining Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz in a dynamic young rotation that led the Mets as far as the 2015 pennant.
deGrom still makes his offseason home in DeLand, where he plays regular games of catch in the offseason with his father, Tony.
Now, deGrom figures to lead a rotation that currently includes Jon Gray, Martín Pérez and Jake Odorizzi, in addition to one of Dane Dunning, Glenn Otto and Cole Ragans. Texas also has a top farm system, led by MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects Jack Leiter (No. 45 overall, Rangers No. 2) and Owen White (No. 59, No. 4) and Rangers’ Top 30 Prospects Brock Porter (No. 6) and Kumar Rocker (No. 8) on the pitching side.
“I think we’re excited about the rotation [as it stands currently],” Rangers GM Chris Young said. “I think what we have at the top of the rotation—Jacob deGrom, Jon Gray, Martín Pérez, Jake Odorizzi, falling behind, and then, you know, options in terms of some of our young guys.
"We have really solid pitching in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. I think that we're going to continue to look to explore ways to improve. We're going to continue to be aggressive and diligent to make sure we put the best team out on the field for the 2023 season and beyond.” (A DiComo & K Landry - MLB.com - Dec 2, 2022)
March 24, 2023: DeGrom will make his fourth career Opening Day start on March 30 against the Phillies and his first with the Rangers, manager Bruce Bochy announced,
June 2010: The Mets chose Jake in the 9th round, out of Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, signing him via scout Marlin McPhail for $95,000.
March 4, 2016: The Mets renewed DeGrom's contract for one year for $607, 000. DeGrom became the first Met in more than a half a decade to receive a pre-arbitration renewal.
Jan 14, 2017: Jake avoided arbitration by signing a one-year deal worth $4 million and performance bonuses with the Mets.
Jan 12, 2018: Jake and the Mets avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $7.2 million.
Jan 11, 2019: Jake and the Mets avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $17 million. His $9.6 million raise eclipsed the record raise ($9.5 million) that Mookie Betts had received just a couple of hours earlier.
March 26, 2019: The Mets rewarded Jacob with one of the richest contracts in franchise history: a five-year, $137 million pact. The deal replaces deGrom’s current contract and includes a $32 million club option for 2024 that could bring the total value to $170 million. Plus an opt-out for the player after 2022 and a full no-trade clause.
March 14, 2022: Fully healthy following an offseason of rest, Mets ace Jacob deGrom said definitively that he intends to trigger the opt-out in his contract after the 2022 season. (A diComo - MLB.com - March 14, 2022)
Nov 7, 2022: Jacob chose free agency.
- Dec 2, 2022: The Rangers signed free agent Jacob for five years and $185 million, an average of $37 million per year through the 2027 season.