You all know Jacob deGrom now. He pitched in this year's All-Star Game, won the 2014 Rookie of the Year, and has pitched 254 brilliant innings in the majors in the last 14 months. Back in 2012, though, he was an unknown toiling away in the lower levels of the Mets' system, and new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington almost got him for Boston.
You might think that's hyperbole on all accounts, but it's the case: deGrom didn't even rank in the Mets' own top-30 according to Baseball America until after 2012, and he didn't even begin pitching in that season until a week of May had gone by -- the Sox were trying to pluck deGrom from the Mets in May. The reason we know the Sox were going for deGrom? You can thank Peter Gammons for that.
In May, 2012, the Red Sox were working on a deal with the Mets for catcher Kelly Shoppach. Ben Cherington asked Sandy Alderson for a soon-to-be 24-year-old righthanded pitcher in the Florida State League who had missed the 2011 season after surgery.
The name? Jacob deGrom. Alderson seemed comfortable with the original idea, but checking with his minor league people caused him to tell Cherington he had second thoughts. So, finally, Boston received Pedro Beato.
The Red Sox didn't even end up dealing Shoppach until mid-August, after the non-waiver trade deadline, and by that time, there was absolutely no way they were going to be able to convince the Mets to part with deGrom unless they added something else to the deal -- by that point in the season, the right-hander had a 2.31 ERA with an 86-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Baseball America would rank him the 11th-best prospect in the system following the season, and he would end up in the majors two years later, and hasn't stopped dominating since.
As for Pedro Beato? Well, he wasn't bad in his limited duty in the World Series championship season of 2013, but let's move on before I figure out a way to knock that defensive mental wall I just constructed down.
It's a shame the Sox couldn't get deGrom, but hey, points to Cherington for trying to grab someone the Sox liked. Who knows what Boston believed deGrom was going to blossom into, but the deal would have been for Kelly Shoppach: if they thought deGrom had the chance to be a big-league pitcher at all, it was something insightful relative to his stock at that time.
The question to concern yourself with -- other than what the Sox would look like with deGrom around -- is just who wanted this story out now. Were the Sox looking to reassure the masses that they do know a thing or two about pitching? Are the Mets trying to prepare their fans for a trade deadline where they hug all their prospects tightly because "See how badly things could have gone if we tried?" is a very Mets' thing to do? Or has Gammons just been sitting on this knowledge for years and figured the time was right to drop a classic Gammo Bomb?
Either way, it figures this is the one time the Mets didn't totally Mets something up. You can't even Mets right!