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 agreed with Justin Verlander on Monday to a two-year, $86 million deal with a $35 million exercise option in 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 in Detroit from 2010 to 2014.
Much like Scherzer, the 39-year-old Verlander has stood the test of time and finished 2022 with a Major League-best 1.75 ERA across 28 starts for the Astros, en route to his third American League Cy Young Award. The hard-throwing right-hander still regularly uses a top-90s fastball late in games, and he’s coming off a season in which he led the majors in WHIP (.83) and had the second fewest hits per nine innings (5.97 ) allowed.
After that campaign, Verlander waived last year, leaving $25 million in his contract with the Astros to test out the free hand.
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, missed the entire 2021 season, but came back with what was arguably his best career year.
The only flaws on Verlander’s resume are his age — he’ll turn 40 on opening day — and a checkered postseason record that includes several poor starts but also a 2017 ALCS MVP award and a World Series title last month. Finally, he picked up his first career Fall Classic win in Game 5, giving up a run in five innings in Philadelphia.
In New York, Verlander will join a rotation that includes Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill. According to a source, the Mets remain in the market for an additional starter, with potential options including Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, Jameson Taillon, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney and others. General Manager Billy Eppler has mentioned several times that initial pitching responses could also come through the trade market.
A significant amount of uncertainty remains for a Mets team that still has work to do on building a bullpen and strengthening the offense. And the Mets are entrusting the fate of their rotation to a pair of Aces, who will turn 79 combined in July. But these aces are likely both first-round Hall of Famers, giving the Mets one of the most dynamic rotation spikes in their history.
More than anything else, 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 hoped to keep deGrom after he left his contract, but Texas’ willingness to go to $185 million for him prompted the Mets to turn to Verlander instead.