TODAY: Verlander and the Mets spoke together in a Zoom meeting last week, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
NOVEMBER 19: The Mets are hopeful of re-signing Jacob deGrom, but if they fail in that pursuit, reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander has emerged as a “prominent possibility” for the team, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma cites a source that confirms the Mets are indeed considering the former Astros ace.
deGrom is still every chance to stay in New York of course, and the Mets already believe they are his preferred team, but it certainly shows the Mets’ intention to again be active at the top of the starting pitching market, be that deGrom or not.
Verlander, 39, showed no signs of age in 2022, making one of the more remarkable returns from Tommy John surgery to toss 175 innings of 1.75 ERA ball for Houston, win the Cy Young award and take home a World Series ring. Though his strikeout rate dipped below 30% for the first time since joining Houston (down to 27.85), his fastball velocity remained in tact (and actually improved on his last full season), and he accounted for the dip in strikeouts by posting the equal-best walk rate of his lengthy career (4.4%).
It’s a stunning turnaround for a pitcher that threw just six innings between 2020-21, and sets himself up nicely to add to his already illustrious career. He’s already got three Cy Young awards, one MVP, two World Series titles and is now 56 wins away from the 300-win milestone. That last one may seem like a stretch, but Verlander has averaged 18.33 wins a season over his last three full seasons, so it’s certainly not out of the question if he bags a three-year deal. It’s likely Verlander will seek deals from teams that give him the best chance to win, and a return to the Astros remains a strong possibility, while teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies could join the Mets in the race for his signature.
It speaks to the quality of Verlander’s output even as he’s aged that MLBTR recently predicted he’d take home a three-year, $120MM deal, even though he’ll turn 40 in February. While the performance remains elite, the thought of paying a pitcher $40MM into his age-42 season must give some owner’s pause though. Instead, perhaps the Mets might bump up Verlander’s AAV beyond the $43.3MM record that Max Scherzer takes home, and keep it to a more manageable two-year deal.
In any event, it shows the Mets are set to be aggressive in adding a frontline starter to partner Scherzer in 2023. Of course, deGrom and Verlander aren’t the only options either, and the Mets could be in on Carlos Rodon and Kodai Senga as well to bolster their light rotation stocks. Currently Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco are slated to start 2023, while David Peterson and Tylor Megill could also have roles at the back of the rotation, depending on how New York’s off-season unfolds.