AP Photo/Matt Slocum
The price tag for reigning American League Cy Young champion Justin Verlander could be more expensive than the Houston Astros are willing to spend.
Per Jon Heyman of the
New York Post
, Verlander and the Astros in contract negotiations “scrambled” the 39-year-old player seeking a deal worth $130 million over three years. Heyman lists the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets if things go south for the Astros A potential landing spot for Wieland. A three-year, $130 million deal would match Max Scherzer’s acquisition from the Mets last offseason what. This contract makes him the highest average annual salary ($43.3 million) of any player in Major League Baseball. The Mets are keen on the fact that Verlander could be a contingency plan if they don’t re-sign Jacob deGrom. Heyman reported Thursday that someone in the Mets organization thinks deGrom would “prefer to return” to New York. The Yankees are still awaiting a decision on Aaron Judge. They need another front line starter in Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes. It would also make them better and potentially undercut the Astros who have knocked them out of the playoffs three times since 2017.
The Dodgers saw the downside of not having a true No. 1 starter in the playoffs last season. Their roster depth was so great that they won 111 regular-season games, but didn’t have more than five innings with any of their starters in the NLDS loss to the San Diego Padres. There are some differences between the two star pitchers that make Houston’s apparent concern understandable. Scherzer signed him to a contract before his age-37 season and has never had a serious shoulder or elbow injury in his career. Wieland turns 40 on Feb. 20 due to Tommy John surgery, He missed the entire 2021 season. The nine-time All-Star returns in near-peak form in 2022, posting an MLB-best 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 175 innings in 28 starts. He won his third career AL Cy Young Award. The Astros are running strong. Even if Verlander signs elsewhere, they will still have Flember Valdes, Christian Javier, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidi in their rotation. If they decide to move on, they could sign another free-agent starter for the money they could have spent on Verlander.