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 Monday with Justin Verlander on a two-year, $86 million contract with a $35 million acquisition 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.
Like Scherzer, the 39-year-old Verlander has defied time and finished 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 uses a late-’90s fastball in 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).
After that campaign, Verlander retired from senior year and $25 million remaining on his contract with the Astros to do free agency testing.
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 past four seasons. In between those accolades, 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 turns 40 on Opening Day – and a checkered postseason record that includes several poor starts, as well as a 2017 ALCS MVP Award and a World Series title last month. He finally picked up his first Fall Classic win in Game 5, giving up one run in five innings in Philadelphia.
In New York, Verlander will participate in 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 possible options including Kodai Senga, Chris Bassitt, Jameson Taillon, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney and others. General Manager Billy Eppler has stated on several occasions that answers to starting a pitch can also come through the trade market.
Significant uncertainty remains for a Mets team that still has work to do in building a bullpen and strengthening the offense. And the Mets entrust the fate of their rotation to a pair of aces who will turn 79 together in July. But those aces are both likely first-vote Hall of Famers giving the Mets one of the most dynamic rotational tops in their history.
More than anything, the signing of Verlander allows the Mets to breathe a sigh of relief after 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’s willingness to go to $185 million for him led the Mets to set their sights on Verlander.