Following the Mets’ decision to deal future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer to the Rangers over the weekend, eyes around the baseball world have turned toward the other Cooperstown-bound veteran in Queens: Justin Verlander. Previous reporting had connected the Astros, Dodgers, Braves, and Reds to the veteran ace, though the Astros and Dodgers have appeared to be the frontrunners for Verlander’s services, in the event that he’s moved before the deadline.
More recent reports have echoed that sentiment, with SNY’s Andy Martino indicating that “three or four” clubs, including the Dodgers and Astros, have engaged with the Mets on Verlander, though no talks have progressed to the point of an agreement on specific players. ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez expanded on the Dodgers’ reported interest with some specifics on negotiations between the sides.
Per Gonzalez, a deal between the sides is “unlikely” given the complicating factor of Verlander’s 2025 vesting option, which would convert to a player option if he pitches at least 140 innings in 2024. That being said, Gonzalez notes that the Mets were willing to pay down the majority of the money Scherzer was owed in order to extract a top prospect in the former of infielder Luisangel Acuna from the Rangers. Given the Mets’ dearth of top pitching prospects and the access LA enjoys, Gonzalez indicates that the likeliest path toward a Verlander deal would be the Dodgers putting together a prospect package of young pitchers that entices the Mets to pay down a significant portion of his salary.
Such a package would certainly be feasible for the Dodgers to put together, if they so chose. Five of the club’s top ten prospects are pitchers, per MLB Pipeline, and youngsters like Emmet Sheehan, Gavin Stone, and Ryan Pepiot are either already in or approaching the majors. That list also doesn’t include young hurler Bobby Miller, who was the club’s top pitching prospect before he became a key cog in the 2023 club’s rotation. While the Dodgers surely wouldn’t consider moving Miller, dealing from the aforementioned trio of prospects could be a reasonable course of action for the Dodgers, perhaps paired with a lower-level arm like Nick Frasso or Landon Knack.
With other top-tier options like Scherzer, Lucas Giolito, and Jordan Montgomery having already moved this deadline, it’s possible that the Dodgers may be running out of alternative options in their pursuit of rotation upgrades. Gonzalez indicates that the club is only expected to add further pitching if it’s an impactful addition, and with the likes of Blake Snell and Marcus Stroman seemingly unlikely to move, Verlander and Tigers lefty Eduardo Rodriguez could be the only arms left of that caliber.