HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros looks on against the Washington Nationals during the second inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas.
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The Mets had a choice to make after Jacob deGrom’s Texas two-step out of town. Patch the hole with several middle-class signings or swing for another ace?

Since these are Steve Cohen’s Amazins, they went with the latter and brought Justin Verlander to the Big Apple on a big-money deal.

It’s a big risk for many reasons. But at the end of the day, it is a preferable risk compared to matching deGrom’s Rangers contract.

Age and injuries. Verlander, 39, battled injuries in 2020 (he would have missed significant time to start the year prior to the pandemic) and then blew out his elbow, missing all of the 2021 season. DeGrom, 34, essentially missed an entire season between 2021 and 2022 with long-running shoulder issues.

But while deGrom has necessitated kid-glove handling since returning, Verlander was his future Hall of Fame self last season, winning the AL Cy Young. Verlander did falter in October, pitching to a 5.85 ERA in four starts. But that is a small sample size and nothing to cause real concern.

Money. The Mets are giving Verlander roughly $87 million, but only over two years. He can only drag on the payroll and roster so much if he begins to decline. The Rangers are far more committed to deGrom with his five-year deal. And if he cannot stay healthy and productive, the deal will be a real albatross.

The Mets’ downside. Verlander is older than deGrom, has a similar injury history and is coming off a rough postseason. They are also risking the same setup they dealt with in 2022: A strong duo of Max Scherzer and Verlander, but one where both co-aces miss significant time at different intervals. And when deGrom is at his best, he is the best pitcher in the world.

That said … DeGrom clearly did not want to stay with the Mets. And the Rangers have more money than sense. And Verlander is preferable to budget signings. The Mets took a risk. But a calculated one. And the better one.

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