No. 1 pick Jackson Holliday gets $8.19 million bonus from Orioles

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BALTIMORE — Jackson Holliday slipped on a Baltimore Orioles jersey, jammed the team’s cap over his long, sandy blond hair and grinned broadly as the cameramen clicked away.

And boy, did he have reason to smile. The 18-year-old high schooler and No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 amateur draft signed a contract Wednesday with an $8.19 million signing bonus.

Holliday, a slick fielding shortstop with a potent swing from the left side, is a son of former All-Star Matt Holliday. He had visited Camden Yards only once previously – many years ago, he shagged fly balls during batting practice while accompanied his father, then an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.

If Jackson has his way, it won’t be long before he makes a return trip as a member of the Orioles.

“I want to be up here as fast as possible,” Holliday said. “I would love to come out hot and continue to play well. Hopefully, two years or less would be my goal. I know it’s a big goal, but I think I can do it.”

If his gene pool counts for something, then Holliday just might have a shot. Matt Holliday was drafted in the seventh round out of high school in 1998 and needed six years to make the rise to the big leagues, but his experience and guidance can only help Jackson in his ascent from the minor leagues.

“When you enter into the professional baseball pool of players, the separator is all the little things,” Matt Holliday said. “We just talked about the work that it takes, the sacrifice that it takes to get to where you want to go.”

Agent Scott Boras, who negotiated the deal for Jackson, said, “It’s a rare library that the Holliday library gives Jackson, and I can tell you he’s read all the books.”

Holliday batted .685 with 29 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs and 79 RBIs as a senior for Stillwater High in Oklahoma. He also stole 30 bases and scored 74 runs.

All that convinced Baltimore general manager Mike Elias to make Holliday – whom he labeled a “five-tool shortstop” – the third top overall pick in Orioles history behind Ben McDonald (1989) and Adley Rutschman (2019). The pick had a slot value of $8,846,900.

“This is a exciting and historic moment for this franchise and for Jackson personally,” Elias said. “I couldn’t be more confident and more optimistic about the partnership of Jackson Holliday and the Baltimore Orioles.”

Holliday took batting practice with the Orioles before their game against Tampa Bay, then prepared for a trip to the team’s training complex in Sarasota, Florida.

“It’s been a little bit since I’ve been able to compete on the baseball field, so I’m very excited to get going and get down there to Florida,” Holliday said.

Perhaps one day soon Holliday will become the starting shortstop of the Orioles. That position was once manned by another highly touted high school kid drafted by the Orioles who made it all the way to the majors: Cal Ripken, Jr.

“It’s an honor to be in this organization and to play a position that he played for so long,” Holliday said. “I hope that I can get here and play shortstop for a very long time.”

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.