Mets starting pitcher Justin Verlander has seen his name thrown around in the trade rumor mill quite a bit recently. Will he go to the Dodgers? The Orioles? What about a reunion with the Astros? And once again, how about a reunion with the Astros?
After days of speculation, we finally have our answer. The Mets have sent their final veteran ace off to Houston. Lots of reporters were confirming the news, but who was first? That’d be USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:
Justin Verlander and the #Astros won two World Series titles together, now they're back together vying for a 3rd title.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 1, 2023
So, Verlander’s time in Queens was a lot shorter than expected. He began the year on the injured list before going 6-5 in 16 starts (94.1 innings). After an inconsistent beginning, JV settled in and produced a 3.15 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with 81 strikeouts.
The Mets are getting two of the Astros’ top prospects in return, both of whom are outfielders: Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford.
The Astros were very reticent to part with Ryan Clifford, and it's easy to see why: He's already raking at High-A after going to them in the 11th round last year. Just turned 20 within the last two weeks. A number of evaluators see him as a superior prospect to Drew Gilbert.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 1, 2023
They’ll also be sending a total of about $54 million to Houston in the deal (if JV’s 2025 option vests).
As we’ve mentioned plenty of times, the Mets entered this year with championship aspirations. That’ll happen when you rack up a $350 million payroll bill (as well as $100-plus million in luxury tax penalties). A lot of the Mets’ 2023 fate rested on how far Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander could lead the rotation.
Between injuries, suspensions, and inconsistent performances, it never really came to fruition. Despite being within a stone’s throw of the final NL Wild Card spot, the front office hadn’t seen enough to keep the band together. We’re now seeing the result of that.
It’s hard for some teams to admit their huge gambles didn’t pay off (*cough* Brian Cashman *cough*). Even though this wasn’t a popular route, the Mets didn’t go halfway with it. That’s for sure. They just traded two future Hall of Famers — that’s not an activity for the faint of heart. Hopefully it pays off in the long run.