Jacob deGrom and Bruce Bochy are a match made in heaven

Texas Rangers' skipper has a history of getting the most out of his pitchers

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 Jacob deGrom
Could Jacob deGrom end up a Ranger?
Image: Getty Images

The MLB hot stove is not officially underway, but it’s warming up, and arguably the biggest name on the pitching market is two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. Earlier this week, deGrom officially opted out of his Mets’ contract — a decision most people saw coming — and almost immediately the rumors started swirling.

Despite midseason speculation surrounding deGrom and the Atlanta Braves, the Texas Rangers are the first team to be linked to the ex-Mets ace. Last offseason, Texas made an effort to compete in the AL West, signing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager to long-term deals in an effort to bolster their offense, which ranked 28th in OPS-plus in 2021. Despite down years from both of their big-name free agents, the Rangers boosted their team OPS-plus from 83 in 2021 to 98 in 2022 – tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the second-biggest jump (New York Mets; 93 in 2021, 113 in 2022).

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Their offense is moving in the right direction, so it makes sense that they’d want to target pitching this offseason. New manager Bruce Bochy is one of the most well-respected managers in baseball, having won three World Series during his time with the San Francisco Giants and won another pennant with the Padres back in 1998. Bochy’s success is most well-attributed to his teams’ stellar pitching staff. Under Bochy’s watch, the Giants were routinely near the top of the National League in team ERA. He, along with pitching coach Dave Righetti, turned career journeymen like Ryan Vogelsong, Jonathan Sanchez, Jeremy Affeldt, and Javier López into All-Star caliber players and vital parts of the Giants’ 2010 and 2012 World Series victories. Together, they also made the most of elite talent like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, and Madison Bumgarner.

DeGrom would undoubtedly be the most talented pitcher Bochy has ever worked with, and with great young pitching prospects set to be ready for the Rangers’ roster soon like Jack Leiter — son of Al — Owen White, and Cole Winn, Bochy would work magic with his coaching staff. Obviously, it all comes down to who he hires as the team’s pitching coach — he won’t have Righetti in Texas — but, even outside of Rags, Bochy has a history of finding gems in the pitching coach department.

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The deGrominator, along with 2022 All-Star Martín Pérez, would be the cornerstones of the rotation, and with a little help from Bochy and whoever the future pitching coach should be. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the likes of Dane Dunning and Glen Otto improve tremendously given the flashes of greatness of each of them showed last season. The Rangers will not win the AL West in 2023. The Astros are still one of the best teams in baseball and one of the most well-run. The Mariners are also young and talented, plus they have a head start on their Lone Star counterparts. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rangers (should they sign deGrom and he stays healthy) if the Rangers win anywhere between 80-85 games, which would be a massive improvement from 2022 and their most wins in a single season since 2016.

Of course, the hope would be that deGrom isn’t the only big signing Texas’ GM Chris Young pulls off. The Rangers definitely still need bullpen help and another high-end starter would certainly be a plus as it would give some of the prospects a little more time to develop in the minors. That, accompanied by expected improvement from Semien, Seager, Adolis García, and Mitch Garver, could make Texas a solid force in the loaded American League. Immediately, deGrom would be able to duel with the likes of Justin Verlander and Shohei Ohtani in the AL West and that’s something the Rangers haven’t had since the likes of Yu Darvish in 2014.