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New York Mets pitcher Justin Verlander is a wanted man leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
Appearing on MLB Network’s MLB Central (starts at 3:25 mark), MLB.com’s Jon Morosi said there is “legitimate” trade interest in Verlander, particularly from the San Francisco Giants.
Morosi noted the Giants are among the teams keeping an eye on the three-time American League Cy Young winner’s status in Queens.
Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post and MLB Network, the Mets are “trending toward selling” after losing a weekend series to the Boston Red Sox that dropped their record to 46-53 and seven games out of a playoff spot in the National League.
Regardless of what the Mets decide to do, Verlander has full control over the situation. His contract includes a full no-trade clause and he just signed with the Mets in December after spending the past six seasons with the Houston Astros.
At 40 years old, Verlander almost certainly wants an opportunity to win. But he’s also spoken highly of Mets owner Steve Cohen and the ability for the team to turn things around quickly.
Here’s what Verlander told The Athletic’s Will Sammon in an interview that ran on July 18 about why he remains confident in the Mets:
“Ownership is a big part. Their commitment to this franchise is apparent. Even now, Steve’s comments the other day. Obviously, we put ourselves in a really tough spot. But he still believes in us. He didn’t say that he wants to sell. It seems like he’s also an optimist. A bit of a realist also. If we continue to put him in a position (to sell), we have to accept that. But there’s no reason to think it’s like, abandon ship and sell everything and not try to win going forward. That doesn’t seem like his MO. That’s a question for him. I remain committed to trying to win a championship here.”
While the Giants are in a better position to compete for a playoff spot than the Mets, are they really a World Series contender even if they were to acquire Verlander?
San Francisco is 54-47 after Monday’s 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Its .535 winning percentage is tied with the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins for the final wild card spot and 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The Giants’ rotation ranks 14th in MLB with a 4.24 ERA and 17th in strikeouts per nine innings (8.21). Their offense has been in the middle of the pack, ranking 13th in runs scored (456) and 18th in weighted on-base average (.314).
This is a very flawed team that doesn’t only need one starter to turn things around. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reported on Monday the Giants are seeking a “significant” starting pitcher and shortstop before the trade deadline.
The only other time Verlander was traded came on Aug. 31, 2017. He was moved basically at the last possible moment before the waiver deadline by the Detroit Tigers to the Astros after agreeing to waive his no-trade clause.
A key difference is that Astros team was a juggernaut with an 80-53 record and looking to polish off a roster that was arguably the best in baseball. Verlander had not yet won a World Series at that point and Houston offered the opportunity to do so.
The Astros wound up winning the title by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Fall Classic, though that season is more notable now for the cheating scandal that some players and coaches used to relay signs from opposing teams to hitters.
Verlander won a second World Series title and his third career Cy Young award with the Astros last season. He’s had some struggles so far in 2023, but is having a decent season with a 3.47 ERA in 83 innings for the Mets.