Beyond the Monster: The Red Sox Almost Heist of Jacob deGrom

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Beyond the Monster is an ongoing series where we take you back in time and look at moments in Red Sox history.

Jacob deGrom is arguably one of the game's best starting pitchers and is a two-time Cy Young Award winner for the New York Mets.  The 32-year-old ace has dominated the National League for the Mets over the last six seasons.  During his short six year career, he has a 2.62 ERA, 1,255 strikeouts, a record of 66-49, and almost became a member of the Boston Red Sox.  Imagine that?  Former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington almost made that a reality back in 2012. 

Photo courtesy of newyorktimes.com

Back in 2012, the Red Sox and Mets were having dialog about a trade that would have sent deGrom to Boston in exchange for catcher Kelly Shoppach.  For the record, I would absolutely do that trade 100 times out of 100.  I get excited inside thinking of the prospects that deGrom could be headlining a Red Sox rotation in the same fashion he has in Queens.

According to Peter Gammons back in 2010, the Red Sox were shopping Shoppach and Cherington had a trade partner with the Mets.  The Sox and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson were discussing names to complete the deal.  Cherington asked for 24-year-old deGrom, who had missed the previous season with surgery.  At the time of the potential trade, deGrom didn’t rank in the Mets top-30 prospects according to Baseball America. 

There were people within the Mets system that told Alderson he shouldn’t trade deGrom, that they had something special in the right hander.  Unfortunately for Cherington, Alderson declined the request of deGrom and the Red Sox would end up settling on another arm, but not until later that season.  The Red Sox would acquire right hander Pedro Beato from the Mets and he really didn’t impact the staff.  Beato made a total of 14 appearances out of the bullpen and had a 2-1 record with a 4.08 ERA.

At the time the Red Sox and Mets completed the trade, deGrom was dealing in the minors.  Cherington could have sweetened the offer, but the stats deGrom was putting up post-surgery left the Mets feeling like they had a can’t miss prospect in their grasps.  The Mets were correct because deGrom was ranked as the 11th-best prospect in their system the following season.  He was called up two years later and he has been an absolute beast ever since. 

The Red Sox missed out on deGrom and kudos to Cherington and his team for identifying talent outside the organization that could have been a low risk-high reward trade.  But had the Red Sox acquired deGrom, the likes of Wade Miley, Jake Peavy and Justin Masterson, who was on the team during the time he was making his debut with the Mets, may never have happened.  The outlook on how the team could have been built may have been completely different.  If deGrom was in Boston and the same player he currently is in New York, would Dave Dombrowski sign David Price in free agency? 

While hindsight will always be 20/20, deGrom in Boston would have been a beautiful sight.  A rotation of deGrom and Chris Sale would wreak havoc in the American League and it would give the Red Sox the best 1-2 combo in baseball.  The Red Sox would have their own version of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in deGrom and his prime years at Fenway would have sold many jerseys, fans would have hung hundreds of K’s, and the team would have benefited from numerous wins. 

From a Mets perspective, had this deal gone down, this would have been such a Mets thing to do.  The last time the Mets traded a prospect that was highly touted was Scott Kazmir, who they dealt to the then Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano.  Imagine Mets fans having to deal with the fact their team would have traded ace for Kelly freaking Shoppach.  That would have been a tough pill to swallow for the fans of the Mets.  deGrom on the bump every fifth day at Fenway would have been a tough site. 

Shoppach hit .203 in 28 games for the Mets in 79 at-bats, not exactly the production you'd want from a player you'd traded a future Cy Young Award winner.  Then Mets owners the Wilpons would have gotten killed in the court of public opinion for this trade.  Alderson would have had the stigma of trading an ace for a backup journeyman catcher.  In fairness, who would have thought he would have blown up into a legit ace and one of the best starters in all of baseball.  Good general managers do not trade future aces for backup catchers.  Kudos to Cherington for identifying the talents in deGrom and shooting his shot in trying to acquire him.



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Boston Sports Syndicate: Beyond the Monster: The Red Sox Almost Heist of Jacob deGrom
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