I’ve been thinking about this question since the introductory press conference for Jakob deGrom last week.
deGrom has received a lot of flack from New York reporters, fans and some analysts for coming to Texas. He said he was sold on Chris Young’s vision of continued winning and Texas’ chance to win a World Series. The New York media and fans shot back at him saying it was all about the money and he just wanted out of New York and didn’t like playing in New York.
But I think we’re selling the opportunity for Texas Rangers fans to bring home the first World Series title in franchise history as a big selling point, as he said in the video below. He understands that winning here means more to the city and his career than he does in New York. Not that he didn’t want to win the championship in New York. Of course he did.
Jacob deGrom chose both money and opportunity to win a World Series by signing with the Texas Rangers.
If you go back to previous seasons, players joined teams for those exact reasons, as deGrom did. Curt Schilling was seeking a contract extension after the 2003 season. The Diamondbacks weren’t willing to extend him, but they were willing to trade him. He was going to the Red Sox or the Yankees. Theo Epstein had him go home on Thanksgiving weekend, when he came to Boston and ended the 86-year “curse” that had plagued the franchise since Babe Ruth was traded in 1918. Epstein sold him.
The Red Sox and Diamondbacks made the trade, and Schilling chose Boston and signed a three-year, $37 million extension. Curt Schilling subsequently became a prominent figure in Boston sports. Then finish the job in the World Series and break that curse.
Jon Lester was a free agent in 2014. He played for Boston for most of his career and was traded to the Oakland A’s at the deadline in 2014. He won 2 World Series with Boston. He was expected to return to the Red Sox in free agency. His free agency was largely a two-team competition. It was between the Boston and Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein, now the Cubs GM, sold Lester when he came to Chicago. The “Billy Goat Curse” dates back to the 1940s and the Cubs haven’t made the World Series since. Leicester had the best young players sold when he joined.
In the year In 2015, the Cubs made the NLCS, and in 2016, he finished the job, winning Chicago’s first World Series since 1908. Lester became a legend in Chicago for being that pitcher and leading the Cubs to those playoff runs. They had to beat the Giants and the reigning dynasty Dodgers, and came back 3-1 against Cleveland to win the World Series.
Did money play a role in Curt Schilling and John Lester joining Boston and Chicago? Of course he did. I won’t argue with that. But saying you want to bring home a World Series title to a hungry fan base and being able to do it right had to play a big role.
Jacob deGrom came to Texas for a team that has been around for more than 50 years, during which time the team has won seven division titles and made the playoffs a total of eight times. In the year They made the World Series in 2010 and 2011. The heartbreak of the 2011 World Series still exists for this fan base and for this organization. It’s painful to watch David Friesen’s two-run triple and game six home run every October.
Chris Young is the club’s GM but also a supporter. He knows the heartbreak his fans felt that night and still feels it to this day. This fan base knows the love for the team. He wants to be the GM that ends this drought. He is trading Jacob deGrom, Marcus Semien, and Corey Seager as the players he could end up with. The Rangers are one of only five MLB teams to never win a World Series. Seattle, Tampa Bay, Colorado and Milwaukee are the other 4. Winning the World Series in Texas means more than living in New York. If these players can do that, they can add that to their careers. That they were able to bring a World Series Championship to North Texas. This Rangers team ended the reign of the Houston Astros in the American League.
These players rarely wanted to play for their previous teams, whether it was Jacob deGrom and New York, Semin and Toronto, or Seager and Los Angeles. They see that coming together here in Arlington and winning here would be special. The New York Mets have titles dating back to 1969 and 1986. Toronto won in 1992 and 1993. The Dodgers have many titles dating back to Jackie Robinson and the 1950s to Mookie Betts and the 2020 championship.
The Texas Rangers are the only one of the Big 4 professional sports in the DFW area that does not have a title. If they can end that drought, they will join Dallas legends such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Roger Staubach, Dirk Nowitzki and Mike Modano. If these players are able to hang a World Series banner, a number of them will retire in Texas and join the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame for their accomplishments.
Taking a step back, the five guaranteed years and $185 million the Rangers gave deGrom played a big part in getting here. But I also truly believe that he came here to win and be a piece that helped Texas win it all. Jacob deGrom is joining this team, as was Curt Schilling, who joined the Red Sox after the 2003 season, and Jon Lester, who joined a young team in Chicago after the 2014 season.