4:27pm: Owner Jim Crane acknowledged that there are talks with at least some realistic possibility of a deal, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.
“I don’t think anything is final, but if it’s going to get done it’s going to get done before we get out of here,” said Crane in reference to the conclusion of spring camp.
3:17pm: Cole seems to have snuffed out any possibility of a deal coming together in his case. He says “there have been no contract negotiations,” as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
The hurler indicated some displeasure with the situation. He tells Rome that the team asked, and he gave permission to hold a discussion with agent Scott Boras. But there was never any talk beyond that per Cole, who says “this seems more like a phone call negotiation involving the media than anyone else.”
2:50pm: The Astros are currently discussing potential extension scenarios with both Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole — a development that The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal downplayed even as he reported it earlier today. In a follow-up tweet, though, Rosenthal says that deal with Verlander “is at least possible.”
That characterization seems to nudge up the likelihood of a deal. The plausibility is boosted further by the fact that Rosenthal puts out some numbers. It seems there’s some discussion and potential for a two-year extension worth over $60MM.
Verlander will turn 37 years of age before he throws a competitive pitch in the 2020 season. At that phase of a player’s career, lengthy commitments generally can’t be achieved. We’ve seen hefty two-year deals for superior performers, though not at the kind of top-of-the-market rates that seem to be under contemplation here.
It’s hard to argue that Verlander is worthy anything less than top dollar. He has been fantastic since landing in Houston late in the 2017 season, throwing 248 innings in 39 starts and compiling a 2.32 ERA with 12.1 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. Even for a pitcher as great as Verlander, that’s a dizzying level of output.
Verlander has indicated that he’d like to keep pitching well into his forties. For now, he’ll have to decide whether to lock in two more years in Houston or instead wait to see what the open market offers next winter. As for the Astros, Rosenthal suggests they may need to dangle something approaching the current record average annual value for a starter (Zack Greinke’s $34.4MM) to secure a deal.