20-cent 7-Eleven tacos fueled deGrom’s $137M deal with Mets
By Howard Fendrich
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — All it took were some beef-and-cheese taquitos and 10-for-$2 mini-tacos from 7-Eleven to seal NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom’s $137.5 million deal with the New York Mets.
OK, well, not quite.
“I only had a couple bites,” deGrom said with a smile Wednesday at a hotel outside Washington, where he discussed his new five-year contract on the eve of the Mets’ season opener against Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals.
After weeks of back-and-forth dating to before spring training, it wasn’t until Monday that deGrom and the Mets were able to work out terms, including a guaranteed $52.5 million deferred into the 2030s. There is a team option for 2024 that, if exercised, would raise the total to $170 million over six years, including $67.5 million deferred.
It was an unusual negotiation from the get-go, given that Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen used to be deGrom’s agent.
“I know a lot of people were worried about Brodie — which side he would be on and how that would all work out,” said Jeff Wilpon, the club’s chief operating officer. “Jacob and I did smile a couple times with what was going on in the room. But we got it done.”
The agreement was finalized during a session that lasted about nine hours at the airport in Sarasota, Florida, where the team played its final Grapefruit League exhibition on Monday.
When the deal was done, deGrom flew to New York for a physical exam. His teammates went to Syracuse for a workout.
“Long day,” deGrom said.
“At one point, we hadn’t eaten for about six or seven hours,” Van Wagenen said, “so I had to make a 7-Eleven run.”
DeGrom, a right-hander who turns 31 in June, had a 1.70 ERA in 2018 and allowed three runs or fewer in his final 29 starts. His record was 10-9 on a Mets team that went 77-85.
He is 55-41 with a 2.67 ERA in five seasons in the majors.
“It’s a relief. It definitely is,” deGrom said about reaching a deal. “When it’s talked about, every time you throw, you do think about it. But it’s a relief, and I’m looking forward to getting the season started.”
That’ll happen with a marquee matchup at Nationals Park between him and Scherzer, the runner-up in last year’s NL Cy Young voting and a three-time winner himself.
It also marks the start of life for the Nationals without Bryce Harper, the 2015 MVP who left as a free agent to join the Philadelphia Phillies.
“You’re cognizant when you’re facing somebody as good as Jake, you’ve got to bring your ‘A game.’ But it’s opening day. Everybody’s going to bring their ‘A game.’ No one’s coming out flat, first game of the year. Everybody’s going to be coming out full-tilt. You expect that,” Scherzer said. “For me, I’m facing their lineup; I’m not necessarily facing Jake. He’s not facing me; he’s facing our lineup. So really the contest is between us and the hitting coaches.”
Notes: 1B Pete Alonso will be on the Mets opening day roster. “He showed us, and he certainly showed his teammates, that … he earned it,” Van Wagenen said. As for whether the team was tempted to have Alonso start the season in the minors, in order to delay the start of his service clock, the GM said: “I do want to focus on winning games. Let’s win as many as we can, as early as we can in the season. And I’m not of the mind-set that we should be sacrificing the best product for the fans and the best product for the other 24 guys in that clubhouse to save service time or potential future money six years down the road.” … C Travis d’Arnaud (Tommy John surgery) will begin the season on the injured list.