New Rangers star DeGrom eyeing a full workload in 2023
Jacob deGrom has not tallied more than 15 starts in any of his past three seasons for the New York Mets, but the new Texas Rangers signing is aiming for double that figure in his first campaign down south.
DeGrom, 34, won back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019, starting 32 games in each season, but a string of injuries have restricted the former Rookie of the Year to a combined 38 starts since the beginning of 2020.
He did not make his debut this year until after the All-Star break, but looked like his dominant self once again, striking out 14.3 batters per nine innings. DeGrom did not reach enough innings to qualify for the league-leaders, but his figure was well clear of Carlos Rodon's league-leading 12.0.
While his health was at the centre of the Mets' reluctance to match the Rangers' five-year, $185million offer, deGrom told reporters on Thursday during his first interview with his new team that he is not planning on easing into things.
"The goal is to make 30-plus starts, and I truly believe that I will be able to do that," he said.
"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 also talked about how he appreciated the Rangers' approach to his free agency.
"The Rangers did a great job with constant communication and making me feel like they really wanted me here," he said. "The vision was the same: build something great, and win year in and year out.
"They showed a ton of interest right at the start, and the feelings were mutual. I want to play this game for a long time, and I want to win."
Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was thrilled to land the top starter on the free agent market, while further rebuilding his rotation with former Dodgers left-hander Andrew Heaney.
"I'm ecstatic," he said. "To win in our game, you need pitching.
"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."
The Rangers' heavy investment in their pitching staff comes a year after they handed shortstop Corey Seager a 10-year, $325m free agent contract, pairing him with second-baseman Marcus Semien on a seven-year, $175m deal.