Mets, Justin Verlander agree to a two-year, $86 million contract
The deal includes a third-year vesting option for the 2025 season
The Mets pivoted quickly in response to Jacob deGrom signing with the Rangers, agreeing with RHP Justin Verlander on a two-year contract, according to SNY’s Andy Martino.
According to Martino, the deal includes a vesting option for a third year, and guarantees him $86 million over the first two years of the contract, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.
Despite his age, the Mets were clearly attracted to the higher-dollar, shorter-term concept Verlander was over Carlos Rodón. In addition, Verlander does not require the Mets to relinquish a draft pick or money from their pool for international free agents in 2023, whereas Rodón checks neither of those boxes.
The future hall of famer had a season for the ages in 2022, capturing his third Cy Young of his immaculate career after going 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA with 185 strikeouts and just 29 walks allowed over 175 regular season innings and 20 postseason innings for the world champion Astros. He underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2021, costing him the entirety of that season but his performance in 2022 also earned him the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Verlander, who will turn 40 in February, is a two-time World Champion, has won the pitcher’s Triple Crown, an MVP award, and has been named to the All-Star Game nine times in his 17-year career. He also pitched alongside Max Scherzer in the Tigers starting rotation from 2010-2014, reaching the postseason four times during that span and the ALCS three times.
Verlander will once again join Scherzer at the top of the rotation, this time with the Mets as they endeavor form another dynamic 1-2 punch for the club and capture a championship for the first time together.
Verlander led the American League with 18 wins in 2022 and is the active leader in wins (244). His 1.75 ERA was the best in baseball in 2022, as was his 220 ERA+ and 0.84 WHIP. His 185 strikeouts in 2022 gave him 3198 for his career, making him the active leader in that category as well and sits five strikeouts ahead of Scherzer for 12th and 13th all-time, respectively.
With Verlander coming on-board, the Mets still need to procure at least one primary starting pitcher for their rotation and additional depth. He joins Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco as the only shoe-ins for a starting rotation that needed to be re-architected heading into the off-season. Given the age and durability questions all three and specifically Verlander and Scherzer, the Mets should expect to have to compensate for 50-100 additional regular season innings from these two rotation spots, as it’s unlikely the Mets can count on 200 innings from either of them in 2023.
Still, Verlander was the next-best option to retaining deGrom, the former serving on nine postseason clubs while logging 207.2 IP playoff and World Series innings over the course of his career. He brings that experience (although he has struggled in the World Series), a cachet similar to that of Scherzer.
The Mets will now need to turn their attention to the middle of the rotation as well as a fix for their vacancy in center field. They’ve reportedly been interested in retaining Chris Bassitt, but the two sides reportedly remain far apart on contract terms. In addition, according to SNY, the Mets tried to close a deal with Jameson Taillon last week, but his agents held back in advance of the winter meetings due to a growing market for his services.