SAN DIEGO — Less than 72 hours after losing one of their aces, Jacob deGrom, the Mets replaced him with an even more decorated pitcher.
The team on Monday agreed to terms with Justin Verlander on a two-year, $86 million contract with a $35 million vesting option for 2025, a source with knowledge of the deal confirmed. The team has not yet announced the contract. When it becomes official, it will reunite Verlander with Max Scherzer, who played alongside him from 2010-14 in Detroit.
Much like Scherzer, the 39-year-old Verlander has defied time, finishing 2022 with a Major League-best 1.75 ERA over 28 starts for the Astros, en route to his third American League Cy Young Award. The hard-throwing right-hander still regularly utilizes an upper-90s fastball late into games, and he’s coming off a season in which he led the Majors in WHIP (0.83) and allowed the second-fewest hits per nine innings (5.97).
Following that campaign, Verlander opted out of the final year and $25 million remaining on his contract with the Astros to test free agency.
Overall, Verlander is a 17-year veteran whose accolades include nine All-Star selections, the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award, the 2011 AL MVP, and three AL Cy Youngs, including two in the last four seasons. Between those awards, he underwent Tommy John surgery, missing the entire 2021 season but returning with arguably his best career year.
The only flaws on Verlander’s resume are his age — he’ll be 40 on Opening Day — and a checked postseason record that includes several poor starts, but also a 2017 ALCS MVP Award and a World Series title last month. He finally picked up his first career Fall Classic win in Game 5, giving up one run in five innings in Philadelphia.
In New York, Verlander will join a rotation that includes Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill. The Mets remain in the market for an additional starter, according to a source, with potential options including Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, Jameson Taillon, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney and others. General manager Billy Eppler has mentioned on several occasions that starting pitching answers could also come via the trade market.
Significant uncertainty remains for a Mets team that still has work to do in constructing a bullpen and fortifying the offense. And the Mets are entrusting the fate of their rotation to a pair of aces who will be a combined 79 years old in July. But those aces are both likely first-ballot Hall of Famers who give the Mets one of the most dynamic rotation tops in their history.
More than anything, Verlander’s signing allows the Mets to breathe a significant sigh of relief following deGrom’s departure to the Rangers on a five-year deal. The team had been hoping to retain deGrom after he opted out of his contract, but Texas’ willingness to go to $185 million for him prompted the Mets to turn their sights to Verlander instead.