Set Number: X164226 TK1
Veteran right-hander Justin Verlander has agreed to a two-year, $86 million contract with the New York Mets, according to the New York Post‘s Jon Heyman.
Heyman and SNY’s Andy Martino reported the deal includes a vesting option for a third year.
The 39-year-old declined his $25 million player option for 2023 with the Houston Astros in November. He was expected to do so to pursue a longer and more lucrative contract.
However, his decision to leave Houston is somewhat of a surprise since the team made a significant push to retain his services. Astros owner Jim Crane said after the team won the 2022 World Series that he and manager Dusty Baker had a “good relationship” with Verlander.
In addition, Crane credited Verlander with helping the team contend for titles year after year.
“Verlander’s a big piece of that. Hopefully we can keep him for next year,” Crane told reporters. “My first phone tomorrow will be to him, see what he wants to do.”
He added: “He wants to win 300 games. This is a good place to do it. We’ve got a good team. You don’t want to go somewhere where you can’t do that.”
Verlander played for the Astros since midway through the 2017 season, when he came over in a trade from the Detroit Tigers.
The nine-time All-Star put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2019, posting a 21-6 record with a 2.58 ERA, .803 WHIP and a career-high 300 strikeouts in 223 innings across 34 starts. He won the 2019 American League Cy Young award and finished 11th in MVP voting that year.
However, the 2020 and 2021 seasons weren’t kind to him. He pitched only one game during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and missed the entire 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
While durability and age were concerns entering the 2022 campaign, Verlander bounced back with an impressive year. He won his third Cy Young Award after posting an 18-4 record with a 1.75 ERA, .829 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 175 innings across 28 starts.
Verlander, who had struggled in the postseason during his career, even played a significant role in helping Houston secure the World Series title in 2022. He allowed only one run in Game 5 of the Fall Classic to help the Astros go up 3-2 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The news of Verlander signing with the Mets doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise after Martino reported in November that the franchise was weighing whether to pursue him.
The Mets began to pursue him more heavily following the departure of Jacob deGrom, who signed a five-year, $185 million deal with the Texas Rangers in free agency.
Verlander will now join an impressive rotation that also includes Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco and David Peterson. It’s possible he could be the team’s No. 1 in front of Scherzer, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him at No. 2, either.
Meanwhile, the Astros’ rotation will still be pretty solid without Verlander in 2023. Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr. and José Urquidy are more than good enough to vault Houston back into World Series contention.