Mets trade Justin Verlander to Astros for Drew Gilbert, Ryan Clifford
The Mets have completed their 2023 teardown, trading RHP Justin Verlander to the Astros for two top prospects.
The teardown of the 2023 Mets — and perhaps the basis of their 2024 team — is now complete. And for the second time in less than a week, the Mets have traded two future Hall of Famers.
Just hours before the trade deadline, the Mets have officially dealt RHP Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor league outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. New York will absorb up to $54 million of Verlander’s remaining contract if his 2025 vesting option converts, per Bob Nightengale.
Gilbert, 22, was the Astros top-ranked prospects while Clifford, 20, was ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Houston’s system prior to the move. According to Jim Callis of MLB.com, Gilbert and Clifford would have been ranked as Houston’s top two prospects in MLB.com’s prospect ranking updates next week.
In order to procure Gilbert and Clifford, the the Astros will only be responsible for up to $29 million of the remaining money potentially owed to Verlander should his 2025 player option get exercised next season, according to USA Today.
In 81 games between High-A and Double-A, the left-handed Gilbert is batting .274/.363/.458 with 12 home runs, 19 doubles, 38 RBI, 57 runs scored, 10 stolen bases and an .821 OPS this season.
In 83 games between Low-A and High-A, the left-handed hitting Clifford is hitting .291/.399/.520 with 18 home runs, 16 doubles, 61 RBI, 57 runs scored and a .919 OPS this season.
Verlander’s brief Mets career ended with a splendid outing against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon followed by a standing ovation as he walked off the field. He allowed only one run over 5.1 IP, extending a nine-start stretch during which he has pitched to a 1.95 ERA. Overall, Verlander is 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 16 starts this season. He earned his 250th career victory on Sunday.
He was signed following Jacob deGrom’s departure to the Rangers last winter to a two-year, $86 million contract with a performance-based, $35 million player option for 2025.
He began his season on the injured list with a strained teres major muscle, and didn’t make his season debut until May 4 against the Tigers.
A week ago, it seemed so unlikely the Mets would move either Verlander or Max Scherzer as they looked ahead towards possibly contending in 2024. But the dominos began to fall following Scherzer’s pointed remarks to the media on Friday evening regarding the club’s decision to trade David Robertson to the Marlins. Given that, the clear and apparent direction of the club going forward, Verlander’s age, the current marketplace for starting pitchers, the need to revitalize their farm system, it unfortunately made little sense for the club to keep Verlander right now.
In the end, the Mets had the two of the most attractive pitchers to trade in a market which lacked a lot of quality arms, making the opportunity to completely reload too good to pass up.
Still, the trade of Verlander puts the final stamp on what is truly a disappointing season for the Mets, with more uncertainty about the club’s actual timeline for a championship ahead of them. He becomes the second future Hall of Famer traded by the Mets in less than a week and the end to an unprecedented experiment with the two players on short-term contracts with the highest single-season salaries in baseball history.