After pitching all but six innings between 2020 and 2021, starting pitcher Justin Verlander bet on himself in 2022 with the Houston Astros. His first full year back from Tommy John surgery will likely yield his third career Cy Young Award. Once he opts out of his 2023 contract and enters free agency, he’ll have plenty of teams interested in his services.
This includes the Mets and Yankees.
Both squads expressed interest in the right-hander before he re-signed with the Astros last winter. We don’t know the extent of this interest, but they were in attendance for his showcase.
Such is life with New York baseball, the Mets and Yankees will likely be interested in the hurler again. After all, both squads could use another starter in their respective rotations. The Mets have much more room than the Yankees do. And, if Jacob deGrom decides to sign elsewhere this winter, the Amazins could be motivated to get Max Scherzer a fellow co-ace again.
It’d be awesome, but I don’t think it makes much sense for the Mets. DeGrom’s asking price will probably be at least $40 million per year. Based on some early free-agent predictions, Verlander will command about the same.
The righty has shown no signs of slowing down, but could the Mets be wary of installing a soon-to-be 40-year-old pitcher at the top of their rotation with Scherzer? It was fun to watch for most of 2022, but we saw how the rotation let New York down in the final stretch. Verlander has also dealt with some postseason struggles of his own. He’s posted an ERA north of 4.00 in each of his last three trips. This includes a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings this past October.
The Mets have made it clear they’d like deGrom back under certain circumstances. But if he doesn’t return, trying to woo Verlander with that money doesn’t make much sense. Carlos Carrasco may be back if New York exercises the vet’s team option. Other than that, Scherzer is the only hurler who ended 2022 in the Mets’ rotation that’s guaranteed to come back.
New York would be better off using any funds not allocated to deGrom to fill out the rotation with multiple pitchers. And that conversation would probably start with Carlos Rodon.
Paying $35-40 million for Verlander would still be a tough sell for the Yankees. That’s especially the case if they re-sign Aaron Judge. But, it’d make more sense because the Bronx Bombers wouldn’t be depending on him in the same way as the Mets.
The Yankees have most of their Opening Day rotation set after exercising Luis Severino’s $15 million option. Jameson Taillon is a free agent, but New York already has Severino, Gerrit Cole, and Nelson Cortes taking up spots. Frankie Montas will also be back and hoping for a rebound after a tough second half. And, according to Roster Resource, Domingo German is currently taking up the rotation’s final spot.
Adding Verlander to this group would serve as more of an exclamation point, whereas it’d be just a start for the Mets. Plus, the Yankees wouldn’t have to face him anymore. That alone would be a huge win.
Of course, this is assuming Verlander even actually wants to entertain the idea of playing somewhere outside of Houston. That mere notion seems unlikely, and it’s not hard to see why. Verlander has revitalized his career since getting traded there in 2017 and has two World Series rings as a result of it.
That doesn’t mean the Mets and Yankees won’t do their due diligence, though. It’s not a perfect fit for either squad, but less so for the Amazins than the Bombers.