Sources: New York Mets, Justin Verlander reach agreement

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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
ESPN

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander has agreed to a two-year, $86.66 million deal with the New York Mets, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan on Monday.

With an average annual value of $43.33 million per season, Verlander's deal equals new teammate Max Scherzer's MLB record for highest AAV. Scherzer signed a three-year, $130 million deal with New York last year.

Verlander's deal includes a vesting third-year option, a source told ESPN. The option for 2025 is for $35 million, a source told The Associated Press.

Verlander, who turns 40 in February, returned from Tommy John surgery to lead the Houston Astros to their second World Series championship in 2022. He had the lowest ERA in the majors and was a unanimous winner of his third Cy Young Award -- becoming the first player to earn the prize after not pitching in the previous season.

Verlander went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 28 starts this past season and made his ninth All-Star team. Verlander won Game 5 in Philadelphia for the first World Series victory of his illustrious career, then became a free agent in November after opting out of the $25 million salary he would have earned in 2023.

"We still have to find that guy that does what Verlander did for us," Astros manager Dusty Baker told "MLB Tonight" on MLB Network about what's next for Houston's starting rotation. "He would stop all losing streaks.

"On the days that he pitched, I could go full bullpen before he pitched and I could go full bullpen after he pitched, and that's something that the real horses ... If you want to be a horse, then you not only pitch on the days that you're supposed to pitch, but you make it easier on the day before and after you pitch. That preserves your bullpen, big time."

After losing two-time Cy Young Award winnerJacob deGromto the Texas Rangersvia free agency, the Mets now will pair Verlander atop their rotation with Scherzer, who is also a three-time Cy Young Award winner.

It will be the first time that Verlander pitches a full season in the National League after spending with career with the Astros and Detroit Tigers, where he pitched for his first 13 seasons.

Verlander and Scherzer were teammates with the Tigers from 2010 to 2014.

The veteran made four starts against the NL East last season, not giving up a single earned run in 25 innings pitched. For his career, he has a 2.14 ERA against the NL East, which is his best against any division, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Verlander made only one start in 2020 because of his elbow injury and missed the entire 2021 season while recovering from surgery.

This season, he led the American League in wins and led the majors in both ERA and WHIP, fronting a deep Astros pitching staff that helped secure a championship. HisERA was the best by a pitcher who made a minimum of 25 starts in his age-39-or-older season since earned runs became official in 1913, and it was the lowest by an AL pitcher in a full season -- at any age -- since Pedro Martinez had a 1.74 ERA in 2000.

Verlander completed at least six innings in 22 of his 28 starts and accumulated 175 innings during the regular season, striking out 185 batters and walking only 29. He also became the second non-rookie ever to make a minimum of 15 starts and post a sub-2.00 ERA despite not pitching in the majors the previous season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The nine-time All-Star broke into the majors with Detroit in 2005 and stayed with the Tigers until he was traded to the Astros in August 2017. He won his first Cy Young Award in 2011 and also took home AL MVP honors after going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 34 starts.

Prior to his injury, Verlander agreed to a $66 million contract with Houston covering 2020 and 2021 seasons. He pitched with the Astros last season on a $25 million, one-year deal.

He is 244-133 with a 3.24 ERA and 3,198 strikeouts in 17 seasons. He also won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 34 starts.

The Associated Press and ESPN's Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.

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